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OLBG Mares' Hurdle

The new breed of hurdlers, chasing stars, the blue riband event of hurdling - they all take place early on the card on the opening day of the Festival, but one thing has been a constant since 2009 - Quevega lining up and claiming the Mares' Hurdle. Ready for one more roll of the dice to set history? Dan Mellett, @danmellett, makes his blog debut with his look at the Festival's shortest-priced favourite of the week. Dan also contributes to @bytheminracing, the account to follow for live racing coverage.

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OLBG Mares' Hurdle

If you are into your racing there's no doubt you've had Tuesday 11th March circled in your diary since last year or more likely entered into your iPhone these days: "Cheltenham". What you have probably also had for the last few years as well on that Tuesday: "Quevega". So it's been for the last five years and many punters have gotten away with Tuesday's early misguided picks thanks to a certain French-bred female.

Tomorrow Willie Mullins' charge goes for an unprecedented sixth win at the Festival, aiming to go one better in the history books than the legendary Golden Miller who claimed five Gold Cups in a row no less. The other constant here is her partner in crime, a certain Ruby Walsh, the Festival's all-time leading jockey. This combination is as good as it gets and if the "wonder mare" can do it again there won't be any complaints from the betting ring, the media or this writer.

16 go to post in this OLBG renewal but all eyes will be drawn to "Queen" Quevega but given her performance last year with only a late surge ensuring a fifth win, can she do it again?

Champion jockey AP McCoy has chosen Cockney Sparrow for this spin and that booking as usual brings attention but a faller last time out at Doncaster is the big negative.

Harry Fry sends Highland Retreat and Noel Fehily into battle and on paper the form figures look good but behind those the trip and ground throw up concerns.

Last year's runner up, Sirene D'Ainey is next in betting and had the race at her mercy before Ruby stoked up Quevega for an amazing 5th victory. Hard to believe that Sirene can go one better tomorrow.

Glens Melody also runs for Willie Mullins but I don't think he realistically sees any threat for his other stable star.

Barry Geraghty takes the ride on Cailin Annamh an Irish raider from the Harrington yard with definite place claims at a decent price.

The other one to consider could be L'Unique with Choc Thornton booked for Alan King. This is a Grade One winner and again with a short price favourite, the value men could do worse.

Down Ace and Doyley Cart may also fulfil that brief if you don't fancy Quevega but I know where my bail-out bet will be going if the earlier races haven't been kind.

Conclusion:

"Queen" Quevega for a magical sixth Mares Hurdle and not a dry eye in the house (bookies in particular).

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