Quevega won the OLBG Mares' Hurdle six years in a row at CheltenhamPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
OLBG Mares' Hurdle granted Grade 1 status
THE Cheltenham Festival has a new Grade 1 race after the OLBG Mares' Hurdle was promoted from Grade 2 status by the BHA.
First run in 2008, the contest has been dominated by Quevega, the Willie Mullins-trained superstar that won the race for six consecutive years from 2009 before being retired earlier this year.
Quevega has done much to cement the race at Cheltenham with her continued brilliance and she became the first horse to win six races at the Festival, eclipsing Golden Miller's five wins in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Ruth Quinn, the BHA's director of racing, said: "We are extremely pleased to be able to upgrade the OLGB Mares' Hurdle to Grade 1 status as it is a race which has performed consistently in the seven years since its inception. This is partially thanks to the presence of Quevega but also because the race has consistently produced large and high-class fields."
Simon Claissse, clerk of the course at Cheltenham, added: "I am firstly delighted that the race has been promoted to Grade 1 status. Quevega has made the race her own over the last six years, but since its inception it has gone from strength to strength.
"Cheltenham is committed to supporting mare-only races with six Pattern and Listed races throughout our season and for the championship race at the Festival to be promoted to a Grade 1 shows the strength and depth in this area of the sport."
The upgrading of the OLBG Mares' Hurdle sits alongside the creation of a new Listed mares' chase over 2m4f at Doncaster in December.
The BHA also announced on Tuesday the granting of Listed status to three other races: the Hampton Novices' Chase at Warwick in January, the John Smith's Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh in February and the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase at Ayr in April.