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Quevega and Ruby Walsh enjoy World Series Hurdle victory at Punchestown for Willie Mullins

Updated: Friday, 27 Apr 2012 16:12 | Comments

Ruby Walsh and Quevega en route to landing the Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle at Punchestown
Ruby Walsh and Quevega en route to landing the Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle at Punchestown

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Willie Mullins can see no reason to alter Quevega's programme after the incredible mare landed her third Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle at Punchestown.

There is to be an 8am precautionary course inspection at Punchestown ahead of the scheduled fixture on Friday.

The lightly-raced eight-year-old is seen on a racecourse only fleetingly - but when she does turn up she is usually the star turn.

On the back of winning her fourth successive David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, Quevega stretched her unbeaten run to six in the three-mile Grade One contest.

Billed as a match between the eventual winner and Colm Murphy's Voler La Vedette, who pushed Big Buck's so close at Cheltenham, the race lived up to all expectations, despite being run in driving rain.

The two big guns arrived late on the scene still on the bridle as Mourad took over from the pacesetters turning into the straight.

As has been the case whenever they have met before, however, Quevega just had that extra change of gear when Ruby Walsh pressed the button, and the 11-10 favourite sprinted clear to win by five and a half lengths, giving Mullins a seventh winner of the week.

All the talk for the purists is of a clash between Quevega and Big Buck's in next year's World Hurdle at Cheltenham, but Mullins is more than happy to stick to a tried and tested route with the mare.

He said: "She's a good mare. Obviously Voler La Vedette was in some form and had great form coming into the race so I was quite worried, but she did the business.

"She did what Ruby asked her and when push came to shove she still had plenty left in the tank.

"She pinged the last - not like here last year - and as we would never have minded taking on the best over two miles with her, we knew she wouldn't be found wanting for a change of gear.

"She won three on the Flat before she ever came to me. She's a real good mare and she showed that today.

"It was a fantastic performance and a great ride by Ruby, too. She came in season last week but came out of it quick enough.

"We've taken her to Auteuil once or twice, but I'm not sure, we'll see how she comes out of this."

Asked if he could be tempted to clash with Big Buck's, Mullins said: "As long as he gets an entry in the mares' race at Cheltenham! But seriously I think we will just do the same next season and why change?

"The plan we follow with Quevega works fantastically well. We always try and get her ready for Cheltenham with a month to spare so if anyone thing does go wrong we have her fairly fit.

"I'm going to keep it simple and I suppose we might meet Big Buck's somewhere away from Cheltenham, but I wouldn't really want to miss this race to go to Aintree."

Mullins was also on the mark with Uncle Junior in the Avon Ri Corporate & Leisure Resort Chase for the La Touche Cup.

Given a patient ride by his son Patrick, Uncle Junior still had plenty to do when the field got back on the the racecourse proper, especially under top weight of 12st 7lb.

There were not many casualties over the unique banks course but Outlaw Pete was still in with a chance when he unseated Josh Halley at 'Ruby's Double' for the third and final time.

That left 25-1 chance Lydon House in front and he appeared to have the race won, but Uncle Junior (6-1 co-favourite) was making relentless progress after the last and got up in the final stride.

Mullins said: "I'd written him off about three different times in the race and I thought it was an extraordinary performance for him to carry 12st 7lb on ground he didn't like.

"The trip was the key, he just stays all day and loves extreme distances. He took six runs to win over hurdles and isn't great over fences now but the banks bring out the best of him.

"It's a great race to win as an amateur, I'd love to have won it as a jockey, and although my father trained the winner in 1953, I've never won it before today."

Tofino Bay handled the desperate conditions best as he made just about every yard of the running in the Stephens Green Hibernian Club Hurdle.

Trained by Dessie Hughes, the lightly-raced nine-year-old has been consistent without getting his head in front this season.

The 5-2 chance held on to win by two and a quarter lengths under champion-elect Davy Russell.
Hughes said: "It's lovely to win a race here.

"He jumped impeccably and he quickened when he needed to. He'll go over fences next year."

Whatever Jacksays (8-1) turned the Naas Court And Il Fico Restaurant Handicap Hurdle into a procession for Robbie Colgan and Oliver McKiernan, while Henry de Bromhead's Buckers Bridge (9-2) did something similar in the the Kildare Post INH Flat Race.

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