Quevega’s position strengthened after rival is ruled out

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The unbeaten Our Girl Salley has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival paving the way for Quevega to make it three consecutive wins in the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle.

Many people’s Cheltenham Festival banker, Quevega has been trading at 1/1 for most of the National Hunt season but after a main pretender to her throne withdrew, Quevega’s Cheltenham odds have been cut to 10/11.

Quevega has dominated this race since its inception in 2008, winning two of the three runnings, and while Quevega hasn’t run since April last year, her 2010 victory came after spending the previous 296 days away from a racecourse.

With only one horse available at single figures to beat Quevega – Sparky May at 4/1 – punters certainly believe that there’s no stopping the seven-year-old mare, and she could well be the best backed horse of the week.

L’Accordioniste is the next best in the betting at 10/1 behind Quevega and Sparky Mare, and with Ladbrokes offering a 1/4 of the odds for a top three finish in the race, there is plenty of value to be found in the each way betting.

Alasi (33/1) finished eighth in this race last year but has since finished second twice behind 16/1 chance Banjaxed Girl, and third on her last outing behind Sparky May at Ascot in January.

There’s no doubt Alasi has improved since finishing eighth last year and her second place at Cheltenham last April is a big plus in the form book, as is her third place behind Sparky May and Carole’s Legacy (12/1) at Ascot puts her in strong shape.

Sparky May will be looking for her fifth consecutive win and is the danger to Quevega, but the six-year-old is yet to take on Quevega and may well find herself coming up short.

A £25 stake on Alasi winning the Mares Hurdle would return £850. New customers can sign up here for a free Cheltenham bet worth £25.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.