THE great Quevega is to retire from racing and begin a career as a broodmare after being beaten by 20-1 shock winner Jetson in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at Punchestown.
Fresh from landing the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival for the sixth successive year, the Willie Mullins-trained Quevega was the 9-10 favourite to secure a fifth victory on the bounce in this three-mile Grade One contest.
She travelled with her usual zest for much of the journey, but Ruby Walsh was hard at work from the home turn.
Jetson, up with the pace from outset, had already stolen a march on his rivals at the top of the straight and, while Quevega did her best to reel him in after the final flight, Jessica Harrington’s runner had enough in reserve to score by a length and a quarter in the hands of an inspired Davy Russell, who rode a treble on the day.
At Fishers Cross was third as the 10-year-old Quevega suffered her first defeat since 2009, and the curtain will now come down on her record-breaking career.
Mullins told At The Races: “I’ve just spoken to the owner, I think we are going to start discussing her next career as a broodmare. It’s not too late to cover her. Her racing career is finished now.
“We didn’t get a lot of luck in running, let’s leave it at that. You’ll never replace the likes of her, we try to buy good mares all the time but she’ll leave a fair gap in our yard.
“I’ll be sorry to see her go, but she finishes in one piece and is sound. She’s pulled up sound, she’s had a tremendous career and I’ll be sorry to see her go.”
He added: “She’s a special mare and it would be hard to repeat what she’s done.
Mullins will be hopings for better luck at Punchestown today and has no concerns about stepping up in distance with Vautour in the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle.
The five-year-old was one of the most impressive winners at the Cheltenham Festival when he turned in an impeccable round of jumping as he put his rivals to the sword in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He had originally been scheduled to go for the two-mile Herald Champion Novice Hurdle on Tuesday but he and Faugheen changed places and his stablemate ran out an impressive winner, leaving Vautour to represent the stable in the two-and-a-half-mile event.
“I don’t expect the trip to be a problem for him. He’s won over two miles and two furlongs,” said Mullins. “His performance at Cheltenham was huge.”
In the day’s feature race, Jezki is eyeing a second successive win over Hurricane Fly when the pair square up in the Racing Post Champion Hurdle.