Sunday 18 February 2018

Lavelle keen to give her Lady a shot at Quevega

WITH opposition to the Willie Mullins-trained Quevega thin on the ground, Emma Lavelle is keen to run Kentford Grey Lady in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle (for the David Nicholson Trophy) at Cheltenham.

The six-year-old came off second best against Violin Davis in a Grade Two at Ascot last time out but Lavelle is convinced that had the race been run at a stronger gallop, she would have emerged the winner.

Lavelle believes a good gallop is almost guaranteed in the Festival heat and while admitting toppling the odds-on favourite may be tough, an each-way berth is achievable.

"Touch wood, she's a definite runner in the David Nicholson," said Lavelle. "There might not be many taking on Quevega, but I understand Swincombe Flame might be so that adds another bit of depth to the race.

"The more water they put on, the better it will be for her and I'm sure there'll be a stronger gallop than in the Ascot race.

"If you ran that race 10 times I'd argue we'd come out on top more than we'd lose, but just on the day they went no gallop. She's growing up now and is turning into a lovely mare.

"Obviously Quevega is going to be very hard to beat but I'd hope we'll be picking up some prize money. She'll definitely jump a fence in time, but my gut feeling is she'll stay over hurdles next season as there's plenty of money to be won in the mares' races."

Lavelle admits good ground at Cheltenham would see Penny Max and Gullinbursti miss the meeting.

Penny Max, owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, has won two of his three starts over fences and holds an entry in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase, having missed several recent engagements.

Gullinbursti has won twice and finished second twice over hurdles this season and is entered in the three-mile Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.

"Penny Max just needs soft ground and it wouldn't have been soft enough at Ascot last week or Newcastle," said Lavelle.

"Really, it's unlikely he's going to get his ground at Cheltenham. He's got the entry but unless there is a downpour I can't really see him running.

"This horse's ultimate aim is next year's Hennessy so it's all about doing the best for him before then. He's got the entry in case it comes up soft but the likelihood is he won't be going.

"It's the same for Gullinbursti, he needs genuine soft ground to be seen at his best."

Irish Independent

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