Cheltenham Festival: Quevega Attempts a Fourth David Nicholson Hurdle – No Bet Yet

February 11, 2012

Willie Mullins can steal a little thunder from the Big Bucks camp on Tuesday should his first lady of Cheltenham, Quevega come up the hill to a fourth consecutive triumph in the David Nicholson Mares Only Hurdle on Tuesday.

The race has been run only four times to date and the last three years the title has gone to the very lightly raced 8yo. So lightly raced in fact that her three wins of this race have come in her last six races! She has of course scored on each occasion and a perfect record of 6 from 6 is only blunted by a third place finish at Punchestown in the Rabobank Champion hurdle in 2009. For the following two seasons she has gone to the World Series Hurdle at Punchestown following Cheltenham and scored with similar ease. QUEVEGA will be a “banker” for many for the opening day. I have opposed her twice, Caroles Legacy in 2010, and with Sparky May in 2011. EW bets have ensured that it hasn’t been a bad decision but will I find anything in 2012 that could return more for a place than would I get for backing the favourite at odds on?

 VOLER LA VADETTE has tried and failed once before to take on Quevega in this race. In the 2010 renewal many fancied Colm Murphys runner to depose Quevega but could manage only third behind Caroles Legacy. Since then she has raced twice as many times as Quevega has in three years but has been in a slight decline in form since then. There is no reason to think if the favourite is on form why the previous result in this race should be reversed. She is 4/1 in the Ante Post market for now, and whilst she looks very likely to find one of the places, I shall look through the remainder of the card to find something at the current 16/1 bar to fill the third win or place position.

KENTFORD GREY LADY and VIOLIN DAVIS have come head to head on a couple of occasions. The Paul Nichols trained Violin Davis coming out on top last time out at Ascot reversing form from their previous encounter at Kempton a month earlier.  Quite where Violin Davis will end up is certainly not certain if the betting for this race is anything to go by. Some firms go as short as 12/1 whilst whilst i write, 85 is available on Betfair, and Sporting Bet have her a 33/1 chance. Based on Betfair place odds being 5/1, Sporting Bet would not be a bad Ew option, but at this stage we don’t know if she will definitely go. The price for Emma Lavelles Kentford Grey Lady is a bit more stable across the board, the best being 16/1, although there is no place bet available on Betfair as 1.51 is too short to entertain at this stage.

OUR GIRL SALLEY was behind that pair at Ascot. She looked to have nothing more to give, but may have finished closer than 2 lengths down on Kentford Grey Lady had she not hit the last. Her price looks about right at 20/1 with Betfred.  ALASI is in the betting at around 16/1, but it would be wild speculation at this stage to be backing her. Paul Nichols returned her to hurdles last time out after she had unseated Dominic Elsworth at Kempton when taking on Kumbeshwar and Menorah over fences. prior to that she had shown herself quite able to take on the bigger obstacles, recording wins in her first two chases at Huntingdon and Ludlow. With entries for the Arkle and Jewson, it is presumed she will take the chase route if coming to the Festival.

As we move through the list it is becoming clearer that this may even be Quevega’s easiest challenge in this race in the four times she has run it, and the price for her is looking more and more right all time. Even trying to find a something to place behind her is looking a challenge. WHATWILLWECALLHER has an impressive looking form column with 4 wins in her last five outings. Her seasonal debut was impressive but what she beat is questionable. Willie Mullins has an option with DARE TO DOUBT. Over fences the last twice, she could revert back to hurdles but suitability to Cheltenham might be the question. her best form has come on sharp right handed tracks to date.

Nicky Henderson has an option with KELLS BELLE. There is much to like about her form to date. She has put in four fine performances this season including at Cheltenham in November when making her seasonal debut and running on nicely over 2m5f. Although her rating suggest she hasn’t moves on a great deal in three subsequent runs, she won a listed event at Sandown in January in which she had  Love of Tara 15 lengths back in 3rd place. The latter raced at Ascot over the 3m in January and although last of the six runner, finished only 8 lengths behind Kentford Grey Lady and Violin Davis with an improved performance. Through this little chink of form, perhaps Kells Belle could be the one to take as a placer for the race. As I write there is £2 available at 160, that being ten points more than you can still bet the retired Sparky May for in the race (why is that one still there?). I find it tempting to just take that 160 for the hell of it. Looking at her place price right now, 12 is a temptation but I just cant press the button.

We should see a couple of these challengers go before the festival and whilst i will not be backing Quevega despite her obviously outstanding form against anything else looking like lining up, I will leave it till nearer the time to make a call if any. In the meantime, I shall be looking out for Kells Belle to see what she might do in the run up and if indeed she ends up going in this.

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4 Responses to Cheltenham Festival: Quevega Attempts a Fourth David Nicholson Hurdle – No Bet Yet

  1. Malcolm on March 6, 2012 at 11:39 am

    The David Nicholson’s Mares Hurdle. Obviously at the price quoted there is nothing there to beat it and IF it runs in that race it will win it. My question why should it run again in that race when it could win the big one against Big Bucks? It is a very lightly raced mare. It runs once at Punchestown before Cheltenham in their 3 mile world hurdle. BIG CLUE. Last time out it stuffed the trainers main entry for the world hurdle going away after the last. The prize money for the Mares Hurdle for 1st place is 39k and 15k for second. The World Hurdle 1st place pays 148k with 55k for 2nd. Morad with an average price of 14’1 and most Irish challengers at around that price Quevega is a stand out value bet each way if it runs but incredibly despite all the hype about it going for the fourth win [one] it is still in the World Hurdle and [two] it is quoted at an average price of 12′s.Something very fishy going on. lol

  2. Marc Owen-Banks on March 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Again, I am in agreement that there is no Kudos in Quevega coming into this race once again and as you point out the fact she is in the World does deserve notice

    • Malcolm on March 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      I forgot to mention I have a few quid ante post picking odds around 330/1 which is bit better than the odds on if it runs in the Mares Hurdle. In summary I would rather lose playing my hunch than back it at the ridiculously short odds quoted. As complete cynic wouldn’t it be convenient if it did run and win the World Hurdle; the bookmakers at one stroke would stuff all the smart money backed ante post on the two odds on bankers?

  3. Marc Owen-Banks on March 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    ooooh! Odds on Bankers. Check out this post. I don’t believe there is such a thing, despite my support for Hurricane Fly.

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