Willie Mullins' Quevega bids for an incredible fifth successive victory in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at Punchestown.
Willie Mullins' remarkable mare Quevega bids for an incredible fifth successive victory in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at Punchestown on Thursday.
The 10-year-old became the first horse in history to win six races at the Cheltenham Festival when getting up to beat stable companion Glens Melody in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle at Prestbury Park last month.
Five of those victories came on her first start of the season and for the last four years she has gone on to claim this three-mile Grade One event.
Mullins said: "It has been a very lucky race for us over the years and hopefully she will run well again.
"She is ready to go and is in great form."
Quevega is one of three runners in the field for the champion trainer, with Glens Melody reopposing her illustrious stable companion and Mourad also in the field.
"Glens Melody was an eyecatcher at Cheltenham and has been improving all season," said Mullins.
"We haven't been easy on her. She's been to England a few times.
"She was beaten by the horse that beat Annie Power (More Of That) in the World Hurdle.
"I was thinking maybe she was sick then, but that probably wasn't a bad run."
Fingal Bay was a Grade One-winning novice hurdler a couple of seasons ago for Philip Hobbs and although he spent well over a year on the sidelines through injury, he has returned seemingly as good as ever.
Following a comeback victory at Exeter, the eight-year-old claimed a thrilling Pertemps Final at Cheltenham and the form has been well advertised since, with the runner-up Southfield Theatre winning at Sandown last weekend and the third home, Pineau De Re,landing the Grand National.
Big-race jockey Richard Johnson said: "Fingers crossed, he seems in really good form since Cheltenham and we're looking forward to running him.
"It's a step up for him from a handicap to a Grade One, but the Cheltenham form has obviously worked out very well.
"He needs to improve on what he's done so far to beat a horse like Quevega, who is an exceptional mare, but he's done very little wrong in his career and I'm hopeful he'll put up a bold show.
"There is a bit of rain forecast and that would definitely be a help for him."
Rated the biggest threat to Quevega's crown is Rebecca Curtis' star hurdler At Fishers Cross.
Third in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham before pushing Whisper all the way in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree, the JP McManus-owned seven-year-old makes his first start in Ireland since winning a Cork bumper for Charlie Swan in November 2011.
McManus' racing manager Frank Berry said: "He came out of the Aintree race well, he's travelled over well and Rebecca is happy with him.
"He ran good races in Cheltenham and Liverpool and he seems well since, so hopefully he'll run well again.
"I'm sure a drop of rain wouldn't do him any harm."
Fingal Bay and At Fishers Cross are joined by two other British-trained challengers in Nick Williams' Reve De Sivola and Knockara Beau from George Charlton's yard.
A 10-strong field is completed by Tony Martin's Bog Warrior, the Jessica Harrington-trained Jetson and Henry de Bromhead's outsider Sadler's Risk.
De Bromhead said: "On ratings, he's got it all to do, but he had a good run in one of those qualifiers at Punchestown earlier in the year over three miles. "If he came back to his best form, hopefully he'd give a good account of himself."