Clash Of The Titans Expected In Punchestown Staying Hurdle

It is always dangerous building up a head-to-head match, but there is little doubt that if both Quevega and Solwhit get the green light to bid for the Grade 1 Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at Punchestown on April 25 it will be a race worth travelling a very long way to see.

At Aintree, Solwhit proved that in the absence of the mighty Big Buck’s he is unquestionably the outstanding staying hurdler of the season.

He won the Grade 1 John Smith’s Liverpool Hurdle in authoritative fashion to follow up his fine victory at the Cheltenham Festival three weeks earlier when bounding away to beat Celestial Halo by two-and-a-half lengths in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Earlier at the same Cheltenham Festival, the great Quevega made it an unprecedented five successive victories in the Grade 2 David Nicholson Hurdle, and many horse racing betting pundits believe she would have gone very close indeed had she been given the chance to take on Solwhit and the rest in the World Hurdle.

Both Willie Mullins (trainer of Quevega), and Charles Byrnes,(trainer of Solwhit), seem keen at this stage to have a crack at the feature Punchestown event, a contest that Quevega has won for the last three renewals and in which she will bid to extend her unbeaten streak to eight races.

Her last defeat came as far back as May 2009 when she was unplaced in a Grade 2 event at Auteuil, having previously found none other than Solwhit too good for her when only third to Byrne’s charge in the Group 1 Rabobank Hurdle at the 2009 Punchestown Festival.

Solwhit has proved a revelation since stepping up to three miles this season so the potential clash between the pair has already found its way into the Timeform notebook.