Mullins' mare breaks record with sixth straight Festival victory
Published 12/03/2014 | 02:30
Quevega, the undisputed queen of Cheltenham, once again stole the show by snatching a record sixth successive Festival triumph in dramatic fashion under Ruby Walsh.
In emulating last year's brave victory, Willie Mullins' mare claimed sole ownership of an accolade she had shared with Golden Miller, the iconic five-time Gold Cup hero of the 1930s.
For the past five years she has turned up in this intense Cotswolds cauldron without a prep run, and whatever the Grade Two OLBG Mares' Hurdle lacks in quality, it makes up for as a spectacle.
On a thrilling afternoon that saw Barry Geraghty and Jessica Harrington lead home a JP McManus one-two in the Champion Hurdle with Jezki, Quevega completed a sparkling 89/1 treble for the Irish-trained runners, after Mullins and Walsh initiated their own double with the hotly fancied Vautour in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Sent off an 8/11 favourite, Quevega looked in deep trouble as she struggled to get to grips with her stable-mate Glens Melody up the hill.
As ever, though, she eventually landed a knockout blow. In front of a record opening day crowd of 57,098, she collared Glens Melody in the nick of time to stretch her winning run to nine, her last defeat almost five years ago.
"I am delighted for Glens Melody," said Mullins, "but I would never have been as disappointed at having a winner at Cheltenham if she had beaten Quevega! She's just class. This is way up there with all of my Festival winners."
It was Mullins' 31st winner. It was number 40 for Walsh. "She's a great little mare," the rider beamed. "It's nice to be part of history."