• Cheltenham Festival, Day One

Five-star display from queen Quevega

ESPN staff
March 12, 2013
Quevega has five Festival wins to her name © PA Photos

Quevega wrote herself another piece of Cheltenham Festival history by becoming the first horse to win the same race for five years in a row since Golden Miller in the 1930s when digging deep to land the OLBG David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle.

Previous renewals of the race have been won in simple style, but on this occasion she was asked to dig deep after being chopped for room at the top of the hill.

Quevega had masses of ground to make up, but turning in she started to find her stride and she powered up the hill to reel in French raider Sirene D'Ainay.

It capped a brilliant day for jockey Ruby Walsh and trainer Willie Mullins, following up the successes of Champagne Fever and Hurricane Fly.

This, though, was not plain sailing. A big, packing field saw a number of runners endure traffic problems - none more so than Quevega. She clipped heels after the fourth from home and Walsh was almost sent out of the saddle.

Walsh had to sit and suffer and wait for a gap to appear. While he was being forced to wait, Sirene D'Ainay had kicked for home and Quevega was out of her ground to the tune of almost 20 lengths.

Quevega was pulled wide but was still a long way off jumping the second last. She jumped it well and started to pick off rivals. She was six lengths down 100 yards from the last. After jumping it, the gap was down to two lengths.

Walsh asked for maximum effort and he had a willing partner who found plenty to cut down Sirene D'Ainay, much to the delight of those who had backed her into odds-on favouritism to win the race for the fifth time.

"She jumped the last and by God did she pick up," Walsh said. "I would have won easy apart from I nearly had a disaster at the top of the hill but when your luck's in, your luck's in."

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