Quevega ideally treated to thwart Solwhit’s stayer’s hat-trick bid
In Solwhit, Reve De Sivola and Holywell, Quevega faces opponents rated as highly or higher than any of the adversaries she’s vanquished in winning the last three renewals of the Punchestown’s World Series Hurdle. However her relative freshness, combined with a hefty weight allowance should see her home for a fourth successive triumph.
The seven going to post for the World Series Hurdle look set to make this the most competitive renewal in most recent memory with five of the field having scored at the 3m trip and around Punchestown’s undulating clockwise circuit. Quevega and Willie Mullins third string Fiveforthree have both notched over this course and distance.
Since his return from injury Solwhit has been reborn as a staying hurdler, scarpering off with the World Hurdle and doubling up with the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree to take his record over 3m to two-from-two. The highest-rated horse in the field, he rates the main danger to Quevega.
The time that Solwhit took to get from the penultimate hurdle to the finish line during his World Hurdle win was 2.2 seconds slower than the Pertemps handicap hurdle on the same card which Holywell won off 11st4lb, but the Charles Byrnes’ nine-year-old easily defied that rival at Aintree next time.
Reve De Sivola looks the each way bet of the race if ridden more conservatively than when fourth in this year’s World Hurdle. Nick Williams’ hurdler paid the price for racing closest to pace-setter Bog Warrior that day, but stayed on with admirable resolve up the hill, only losing third place in the dying strides.
Returning to a course where he achieved his sole Grade 1 victory as a novice hurdler after skipping the Aintree race won by Solwhit, he has a strong chance of making the places. The softer ground at Punchestown is another positive for Daryl Jacobs mount who has never finished out of the first three on soft of heavy going.
However despite the strong claims of Solwhit and Reve De Sivola Quevega still has the best chance of success. Her hefty 7lb mares allowance means that Solwhit will have to run to a mark of 171 in order to beat a horse who, according to the handicapper posted a career best performance last time out.
Furthermore, the latter is four runs into his return from a two year injury lay off and will be hard pushed not to find Willie Mullins mare that bit fitter on just her second run of the campaign. The disadvantage of being tired at the end of a long campaign is something Solwhit shares with fellow challengers Holywell and Reve De Sivola, each of whom have raced at least four times.