Quevega en route to another success at PunchestownPICTURE: Alain Barr (racingpost.com/photos)
Quevega stars after Solwhit withdrawal
Report: Punchestown, Thursday
Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m, 4yo+
QUEVEGA, who last month made it a magical five wins in the mares' race at the Cheltenham Festival, landed her fourth Ladbrokes World Series at Punchestown on Thursday, but the mighty mare's task was eased when Solwhit was withdrawn just before the start.
Trained by Willie Mullins for the Hammer & Trowel Syndicate, the nine-year-old looked at her brilliant best and had far too much class for Reve De Sivola, strolling to a five-length victory.
The winner returned at 6-4 and has now not been beaten since May 2009, eight races ago.
She is Paddy Power's 5-4 favourite to return to Cheltenham next year for a sixth success in the mares' hurdle, which would mean she moves clear of Golden Miller in Festival wins.
"She's a brilliant little mare," said winning jockey Ruby Walsh. "She has been exceptionally well placed and trained. She is so accurate with her jumping, she travels and she is honest. She is the real deal."
The real deal she is, although many expected World Hurdle winner Solwhit, who also scored in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree, to make things difficult.
He had Reve De Sivola back in fourth in the World Hurdle and beat Quevega in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown four years ago.
Due to be sent off the 11-8 favourite, Solwhit was dismounted from by Davy Russell before the start and was withdrawn.
Mullins added: "I felt for Solwhit's connections. It could happen to any horse. We are not afraid to enter Quevega in the two-mile championship races, she has that much speed. She is older and stronger and handles that ground better."
Whatuthink, who collapsed after the race, is set to make a full recovery.
Punchestown's racing manager Richie Galway said: "He was just exhausted and when he was given time to catch his breath he got up."