JOHN Quinn’s philosophy is a simple one as his Cockney Sparrow prepares to take aim at Quevega – the Willie Mullins-trained superstar bidding to win the OLGB Mare’ Hurdle for a sixth successive year.
“Anything can happen. If you’re not in it, you can’t win it,” says the Irish-born Malton trainer as he prepares to send a four-strong raiding party to Cheltenham.
Take last year. Quevega appeared to stumble in last year’s renewal before coming with a late surge after the final flight under Ruby Walsh to equal Golden Miller’s five successive Gold Cup wins in the 1930s.
She’s not raced since Punchestown last April while Cockney Sparrow has been kept busy by Quinn who has secured the services of Walsh’s great rival, AP McCoy, for the ride.
A winner on the Flat at Ayr’s Gold Cup meeting as part of rising star Oisin Murphy’s unforgettable four-timer, she then won a mares’ hurdle at Wetherby’s Charlie Hall meeting before finishing second to McCoy’s Champion Hurdle mount My Tent Or Yours in the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Though Annie Power fell on her last outing at Doncaster, a race remembered for the brilliance of the Mullins-trained Annie Power who takes on Big Buck’s in Thursday’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle, Quinn is “hopeful” that Cockney Sparrow will provide a thrilling spectacle for her ever-enthusiastic owner Paul Gaffney.
“We’re looking forward to running her. She’s never raced over the trip – two and a half miles is a lot further than two miles – but she’s well in herself,” he said. “You can’t be frightened of one horse.”
Of Quinn’s remaining horses, his Calculated Risk lines up in Wednesday’s Coral Cup or Friday’s Martin Pipe race for conditional riders.
Both Pearl Castle and Rutherglen will, however, line up in Friday’s Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle for four-year-old juvenile hurdlers.
Quinn knows what it takes to win this race – his Countrywide Flame, now retired because of injury, prevailed in this contest two years ago before being placed in last year’s Champion Hurdle.
Though neither are probably in his class, Pearl Castle has won his last two outings at Doncaster while Rutherglen’s four-race winning sequence dates back to Wetherby at the end of November.
This winning experience could be critical. “They are two fair horses and it is a wide open Triumph this year,” added Quinn.
“We have four runners. If one of them wins, we will be delighted.”