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Cockney Sparrow ready to tackle queen Quevega at Cheltenham Festival

Quevega may be a red-hot favourite to claim a sixth straight OLBG Mares' Hurdle victory but that hasn't put connections of Cockney Sparrow and Doyly Carte off taking on the queen of the Cheltenham Festival.

John Quinn has already enjoyed plenty of success with five-year-old Flat recruit Cockney Sparrow, who won twice on the level for Peter Chapple-Hyam before switching codes.

Since being purchased for 35,000gns in October 2012, the daughter of Cockney Rebel has prevailed four times over timber and once more on the Flat at Ayr for her current connections.

Last season's National Hunt victories included a 22-runner £25,000 handicap hurdle at Aintree's Grand National meeting, so Cockney Sparrow has certainly proved she can handle the big occasion.

This term, she began with a smooth triumph at Wetherby before chasing home My Tent Or Yours in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle towards the end of November.

There was a setback when Quinn's charge took a tumble two out when in second place behind Annie Power at Doncaster, but the North Yorkshire handler is happy there will be no hangover from that incident at Cheltenham.

“She's trained well since Doncaster and had a few nice schools," he declared. "If she stays, and I think she will, I expect her to run a big race.”

Doyly Carte ended up finishing second in that Town Moor contest and, although disappointing at Kelso last time out, she can also boast a Cheltenham success among her four career wins under rules.

“Doyly Carte is a good mare and the ground was just too soft for her at Kelso," reported trainer Donald McCain. "We are hoping it dries out a bit for her.”

Whether either of these challengers will be good enough to give Quevega a tough test remains to be seen though, especially with Willie Mullins reporting his superstar "very well" and working impressively at home.


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Cockney Sparrow ready to tackle queen Quevega at Cheltenham Festival

Quevega may be a red-hot favourite to claim a sixth straight OLBG Mares' Hurdle victory but that hasn't put connections of Cockney Sparrow and Doyly Carte off taking on the queen of the Cheltenham Festival.

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