ruby wALSH and Willie Mullins are poised to rewrite Cheltenham Festival history today – and blow away the bookmakers – with Hurricane Fly and Quevega.
Both horses galloped yesterday at the iconic Cotswolds track where Hurricane Fly will attempt to defy his veteran status and win a third Stan James Champion Hurdle in four years.
Only five other hurdlers – the most recent being Ireland’s iconic Istabraq in 2000 – have achieved this feat.
Yet this performance could be eclipsed 40 minutes later if Hurricane Fly’s stablemate Quevega wins a sixth successive OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.
In doing so, the wonder mare would overhaul the legendary Golden Miller’s five straight Gold Cup wins in the 1930s.
Before these two dates with destiny, Walsh – the most successful Festival rider with 38 successes – and Mullins team up with Vautour and Champagne Fever, two of the best novices on either side of the Irish Sea.
If they can pull off a fantastic four-timer, William Hill spokesman Jon-Ivan Duke says ‘Ruby Tuesday’ could cost the Leeds-based bookmaker £5m alone. Yet this was of secondary consideration to Walsh after Hurricane Fly and Quevega arrived safely at Cheltenham from County Carlow.
“I rode Hurricane Fly and he seems to be in good form,” said Walsh before acknowledging the merits of the young pretenders in the Champion Hurdle headed by The New One for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies.
“The line-up is what it is – it was never going to be any different. He has been here and done it twice before and if we are being clinical about it, the others have got something to prove whereas he hasn’t.”
As for Quevega, her most likely threat is from the Yorkshire-trained Cockney Sparrow who will be ridden by the jockey’s great rival AP McCoy.
“Even just to get to Cheltenham six years in a row is unbelievable. I’d say she’s in good nick,” added Walsh.
Full story and cards: Pages 18-19.