French bred Irish trained National Hunt mare, QUEVEGA imposed herself for the 6th time in a row in the OLBG David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival.
ROBIN DES CHAMPS’s daughter was bred by Pierre RIVES in France in Auvergne region, and began her career in France in 2007. All started when QUEVEGA competed at Decize model and gaits competition in 2 YO filly category in 2006. She arrived 6th but Jean BIRABEN, owner and breeder in the South-West of France loved her at first sight; he explains: “this filly had charisma and a beautiful head carriage.” After negotiation with her breeder, through Pierre BOULARD (PB Bloodstock), the young filly was sent to break-in with Bertrand DE WATRIGANT, at Pau in Pyrenees region. Mr BOULARD remembers very well his first meeting with the filly when he bought her for her actual owners HAMMER/TROWEL SYNDICATE in 2008: “With her 1m61, she was pretty small but I’ve quickly noticed her strong potential. At that time, she won three races in a row, at Durtal, Niort and Vichy. From that day, we knew she had a fighting spirit. Because of her height she wasn’t able to run over Steeple-Chase, but she’s such a fantastic hurdler, so it doesn’t really matter!” After two years in Ireland, trained by Willie Mullins, the 5 YO filly headed to the Cheltenham Festival to run in the newly established David Nicholson Mare’s Hurdle over two and a half miles. In 2010 she won with complete authority, after making her move approaching the last hurdle. Her jockey Ruby WALSH described her as “a great mare”. Then, she won a third consecutive Mares Hurdle in 2011 despite being “a gallop short” according to her trainer. The year after, Cheltenham race boiled down to a fantastic duel with VOLER LA VEDETTE approaching the straight, but QUEVEGA stayed on the best to defeat her opponent by over five lengths. Mr MULLINS described her as “a real good mare”. Last year, the golden mare once again lined up on the back of a long absence and made an amazing race. Indeed, she progressed to fifth place approaching the last, before coming with a late burst to beat the French mare SIRENE D’AINAY in the final half furlong. In winning the race for a 5th consecutive year, she levelled the score of GOLDEN MILLER, who won five Cheltenham Gold Cups in the 1930’s.
Her last race at Cheltenham Festival, was once again a great success, QUEVEGA became the first horse in the history to win six times in a row such a prestigious race. Concerning her last race Pierre BOULARD said “She was true to form, an amazing competitor and a great champion. QUEVEGA and Ruby (Walsh) are always a very efficient duet. He knows how to ride her; there is a beautiful complicity between them… and it works. If I had to describe her, I would say she has a strong temper, a lot of class; she’s small in size but high in power”.
This mare is a great ambassador for French breeding. For all her great victories and all the emotions she gave us, we would like to pay tribute to QUEVEGA. Congratulations to her connections!