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Watching brief

Willie Mullins remains averse to tackling Big Buck's with Quevega. After his star mare on Thursday disposed of Voler La Vedette with less fuss than Big Buck's did last month, he justifiably pointed out that Big Buck's tends only to do enough to beat whatever is in front of him.

Mullins refused to take the bait when it was suggested that there was little to be achieved by crushing more sub-standard opposition next March in a Grade Two that is one of the weakest races at the Cheltenham Festival.

He also quipped, half-jokingly, that he'd hate to have to make Ruby Walsh choose between the two, a case of the tail wagging the dog if ever there was one!

Walsh having to nail his colours to the mast would be half the intrigue, so if Mullins won't get him off the fence, maybe Paul Nicholls will. After all, the Punchestown race is worth £26,000 more than Aintree's equivalent. If Mohammed won't come to the mountain ...

Irish Independent