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Carole's Spirit to miss out on Cheltenham Festival clash with Quevega

Quevega's bid to claim a historic sixth straight OLBG Mares' Hurdle victory has been made slightly easier after connections of promising novice Carole's Spirit opted to sidestep the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

The six-year-old showed plenty of promise in bumpers last season, winning at Warwick before being placed in good company at Sandown and Aintree, and has continued to impress since being put over obstacles.

Robert Walford's charge rattled off a hat-trick at Plumpton, Newbury and Haydock before chasing home Highland Retreat when trying three miles for the first time in a Grade 2 contest at Ascot.

Her half-sister Carole's Legacy had finished second in the same race three years ago and also filled the same position behind Quevega in the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham, but Carole's Spirit will have to wait a little while longer before going for Festival glory.

"After thinking long and hard about it we’ve decided to give the OLBG Mares' Hurdle at the Festival a miss this year," said trainer Walford. "We think an awful lot of Carole’s Spirit, but she’s only a novice so taking on the likes of Quevega this year maybe isn’t a good idea.

"It’s a real shame there isn’t a novice race for these mares at the Festival and I strongly believe there is a place for it. We will now head to Ireland with her for a novice hurdle at Fairyhouse. We did toy with the idea of running her in the Mares Final at Newbury, but that’s a listed handicap and she’d have a big weight, so we’ll give that a miss. Next season could be a big year for her."

Quevega currently stands alongside Golden Miller as a five-time winner of the same race at successive Cheltenham Festivals but will go off as an odds-on favourite to make it six of the best and claim an outright record on day one of this year's meeting.

The 10-year-old has not been seen since following up a smooth defeat of Sirene D'Ainay in the same contest last term with a comfortable five-length defeat of Reve De Sivola at Punchestown but is reported in good shape by Willie Mullins.


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Carole's Spirit to miss out on Cheltenham Festival clash with Quevega

Quevega's bid to claim a historic sixth straight OLBG Mares' Hurdle victory has been made slightly easier after connections of promising novice Carole's Spirit opted to sidestep the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

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