There are a number of enticing races for punters to look forward to at Punchestown this week but perhaps the best of those comes on Thursday. The World Series Hurdle is the highlight on the card and we are ready for a titanic tussle between the legendary Quevega and the classy Solwhit. Quevega has won the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on five successive occasions while Solwhit was highly impressive at Cheltenham when winning the World Hurdle last month.
This race has all the makings of a classic on Thursday with two of the very best staying hurdlers of their generation set to clash at the Punchestown Festival. Quevega has won this race on the last three occasions but she faces her toughest task to date this year in the form of Solwhit. The Charles Byrnes horse has always been a class act but it is only this season over three miles that we are starting to see the very best of the horse.
The bookmakers rate Solwhit as the slight favourite for the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle on Thursday despite the fact he is talking on a mare who last tasted defeat back in May 2009. Willie Mullins has done a remarkable job to get Quevega fit and healthy to the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals for so many year's on the bounce and she is always difficult to oppose. Quevega was given a sensational ride by Ruby Walsh last month as he steered her through the field to win a remarkable fifth David Nicholson Mares Hurdle on the spin.
On the face of it the World Series Hurdle looks like a match between the market principles, but punters should also keep a close eye on Reve De Sivola. The Nick Williams trained horse should relish the soft conditions and has some solid form in the book in the UK this season.
He won the Long Walk Hurdle and the Cleeve Hurdle earlier in the winter before going onto finish fourth in the World Hurdle last time out behind Solwhit. He may have a bit to find on that form but Reve De Sivola is likely to bowl along in front and could well be a nice piece of value at an each-way price.
It is hard to see the winner come from outside of the top three on Thursday afternoon and whichever way it goes, it promises to be one of the races of the season. The staying hurdle division may have lost the great Big Buck's this season with injury but a clash between Quevega and Solwhit is the next best thing. Solwhit has been a grade 1 winner over two and three miles while Quevega is widely considered to be one of the greatest racing mares of all time.
This is a difficult race to call from a betting point of view but on this occasion it could be that Quevega struggles slightly against her male counterparts. Solwhit was awesome at Cheltenham when winning the World Hurdle, while he looked even better last time out at Aintree which could well give him a slight edge on Thursday.