David Nicholson Mares Only Hurdle - Tuesday March 15th 2011 

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Quevega Lands Mares’ Hurdle Hat-Trick

1 Quevega 5/6 Fav
2 Sparky May 4/1
3 Ocean Transit 50/1
14 ran Distances: 10l, 1l, ½l
TIME 4m 48.08s (slow by 9.58s)

Trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh, who had earlier landed the Stan James Champion Hurdle with Hurricane Fly, continued an unforgettable afternoon when Quevega strolled to a 10-length victory in the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle when sent off 5/6 favourite.



The seven-year-old, who was making her seasonal debut, was winning the Grade Two event for a third successive year as she completed a 5.87/1 double for Mullins and a 74.6/1 treble for Walsh, who had also landed the opening Stan James Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Al Ferof.

“It’s just been a magic day and I’ll enjoy the rest of the week now and not worry too much,” said Mullins, who became the most successful current Irish trainer in Festival history with 19 wins. “Ruby’s been fantastic and he gets on so well with the mare, he loves her and they just fire off each other. He rode her with such confidence.

“We entered her in the other races but, when you have a horse that can be favourite in a race at Cheltenham, why go somewhere else and look for something to beat you? This race was always the plan - this looked tailor made for her and it has proved to be the case.

“She won with her head in her chest today and Ruby started looking around when he turned for home. It was extraordinary how easily she won and Ruby said she was pulling hard coming to the second last. She’s a superstar.

“I thought she might have been a gallop short before today but maybe I had her over the top for the last couple of years! On her last two bits of work, both riders told me she needed it badly.

“She might go to the Aintree Hurdle next and the aim is to go to Punchestown again. The owners are racing people rather than breeders and I imagine that she will come back next year.”

Walsh added: “She’s a remarkable little mare. She jumped super, travelled super and, barring the last, there were no scares.

“She hasn’t run since Punchestown last year and what can you say about Willie, he’s obviously done something right.

“She has so much class and she settles a lot better than she did as a younger mare. She just lobs away and every time that you want her to get a bit closer, you let her out and she gets there. When you want her to slow down, she slows down - she is just a perfect ride.”


Starting Price
Beaten Distance
W P Mullins
R Walsh
11st 5lbs
5 - 6
Sparky May
P R Rodford
K Burke
11st 5lbs
4 - 1
10 lengths
Ocean Transit
R J Price
David Bass
11st 0lbs
50 - 1
1 length
P R Webber
D Elsworth
11st 0lbs
33 - 1
1/2 length
Stephanie Kate
C F Swan
P Carberry
11st 0lbs
50 - 1
3 3/4 lengths
N A Twiston-Davies
P J Brennan
11st 0lbs
8 - 1
2 1/2 lengths
Banjaxed Girl
N A Twiston-Davies
S Twiston-Davies
11st 5lbs
8 - 1
1 length
J L Flint
R P Flint
11st 0lbs
40 - 1
1 1/2 length
Miss Overdrive
Andrew Turnell
Nick Scholfield
11st 0lbs
100 - 1
2 1/2 lengths
D McCain Jnr
J M Maguire
11st 5lbs
40 - 1
6 lengths
La Vecchia Scuola
J S Goldie
G Lee
11st 0lbs
20 - 1
6 lengths
Princess Rainbow
Jennie Candlish
A O'Keeffe
11st 0lbs
200 - 1
4 1/2 lengths
Lonesome Dove
C F Swan
D J Casey
11st 0lbs
100 - 1
3/4 length
Silver Gypsy
K C Bailey
S Quinlan
11st 0lbs
25 - 1
3/4 length



Sparky May left soon-to-retire trainer, Pat Rodford, over the moon after her second-place finish to Quevega in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle.

After mopping up on her previous four hurdle runs, the six-year-old was rated as the main danger to hot favourite Quevega.

However, an early mistake saw jockey Kieran Burke lose his irons, but he regained his composure and his mount travelled well into the race.

Although leading down the hill, Sparky May was a sitting duck for Quevega and the Irish mare bounded past soon after.

Sparky May lost little in defeat and was 10 lengths behind the imperious winner who has dominated this race for the last three years.,

Rodford said: “It has been a good story and it has finished up all right.

“We have had a good time of it and she has finished second to a wonder horse so I am grateful for that.

“Kieren gave her a wonderful ride and had both legs on one side after she made a mistake early on.

“We will get her home and see how she is. She may have had enough for this season but if not we will look at Aintree or Punchestown.”



This year sees the fourth running of the Grade Two David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, named in memory of the legendary Cotswold-based jockey and trainer, who passed away in August, 2006.

“The Duke” enjoyed five successes at The Festival as a jockey between 1963 and 1973, but is best known for his 17 victories as a trainer, including successes in the Queen Mother Champion Chase (1994 & 1995 Viking Flagship), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Anzum 1999) and totesport Gold Cup (1988 Charter Party).

Nicholson became the first trainer for more than 50 years to saddle three winners in a day at The Festival when Putty Road (Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle), Viking Flagship ( Queen Mother Champion Chase) and Kadi (Byrne Group Plate) all triumphed on March 15, 1995.



2010-WINNER-QUEVEGA 6-11-05 Owner-Hammer & Trowel Syndicate; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE;
Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-6/4 Fav
2ND Carole’s Legacy 6-11-00 Owner-Paul Murphy; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Andrew Tinkler; SP-20/1
3RD Voler La Vedette 6-11-05 Owner-Mrs M Brophy; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-9/4
17 ran, Time-4m 45.40s Dist-4½, 1¼

2009-WINNER-QUEVEGA 5-11-03 Owner-Hammer & Trowel Syndicate; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-2/1 Fav
2ND United 8-11-05 Owner-R B Holt; Trainer-Lucy Wadham; Jockey-Dominic Elsworth; SP-100/30
3RD Aura About You 6-11-00 Owner-Jim Mernagh; Trainer-Paul Nolan IRE; Jockey-Alain Cawley; SP-28/1 21 ran, Time-4m 55.20s Dist-14, sh

2008-WINNER-WHITEOAK 5-11-00 Owner-Brendan Richardson; Trainer-Donald McCain Jnr; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-20/1
2ND Refinement 9-11-05 Owner-Michael Tabor; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Tony McCoy; 10/1
3RD Chomba Womba 7-11-05 Owner-Richard & Lizzie Kelvin Hughes; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-100/30 Fav
13 ran, Time-5m 1.40s Dist-sh, 2½

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