Wednesday 26 November 2014

Impossible to look beyond brilliant Quevega on her favourite stage

Published 01/05/2014 | 02:30

23 April 2013; Champagne Fever, with Ruby Walsh up, during the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle. Punchestown Racecourse, Punchestown, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Champagne Fever is a serious contender for Willie Mullins in the Ryanair Novice Chase. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Quevega might have made hard work of creating history at Cheltenham, but she really does come alive at Punchestown every year.

I couldn't bring myself to take her on in today's Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle.

At Fishers Cross deserves respect, not least because of the faith AP McCoy had in him to eschew More Of That at Cheltenham.

His Aintree form stands up well too, but he has had a long, hard season by now.

While he might be the one to fill the runner-up berth if there is some more juice in the tank, that's all that the rest are racing for in my opinion.

Quevega seems to love it here, and she has had just one run all season. It will be a massive surprise to me if she gets turned over under Ruby Walsh.

Willie Mullins should win the other Grade One as well. He has Champagne Fever and Felix Yonger in the Ryanair Novice Chase, but Felix Yonger has become a bit hit and miss.

Champagne Fever might have been beaten on his last two outings as well, but he made a bad mistake at Leopardstown and I still think that time will show that he was caught by a very good horse in Western Warhorse at Cheltenham.

His best performance over fences was on his debut here in November, so I'd expect him to recapture that sort of form on his return.

Balder Succes is no mug, but the fact that he has been to Aintree could work against him now.

While he is the pick of the rest, I'd have to fancy Champagne Fever to prove too good for him today.

In the handicap hurdle that is dedicated to Colm Murray's memory, Mount Gunnery will run well at decent odds for Pat Fahy.

He didn't get the run of the race when I was fourth on him on his handicap hurdle bow at Cork recently, but he will come on for that experience.

He should be placed, with Pivot Bridge possibly a more likely winner after a convincing display at Fairyhouse.

In the La Touche Cup, Duers, another I've ridden a few times, could run a big race. He has run well over the banks course before and is a consistent sort of horse.

Davy's Double

Quevega and Inis Meain

Condon's Call

3.40 Pivot Bridge

4.15 Ned Buntline

4.50 Duers

5.30 Quevega (nap)

6.05 Inis Meain

6.40 Champagne Fever

7.15 Urticaire

7.45 Tell Us More

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