Cockney Sparrow team ready for big clash with Quevega
John Quinn is anticipating "a big run" from Cockney Sparrow if she can handle the step up in trip at Cheltenham.
Last Updated: 05/03/14 12:25pm
The five-year-old was last seen at Doncaster in January, when she fell two flights from home trying to match strides with the World Hurdle-bound Annie Power from Willie Mullins' yard.
While Cockney Sparrow will not face a rematch with that mare, she faces a stern challenge from the Mullins-trained Quevega, who has annexed this race for the last five years.
Cockney Sparrow will be trying the two-and-half-mile trip for the first time, but Quinn believes his charge will see out the distance.
The North Yorkshire handler told OLBG.com: "She's trained well since Doncaster and had a few nice schools. If she stays, and I think she will, I expect her to run a big race."
Quevega is obviously Mullins' main hope in the race but he also fields a fine second string in Glens Melody, a Grade One winner at Punchestown last term and successful in Listed contests at Warwick on her last two outings.
Quevega will be making her seasonal return once again in the race, a strategy Mullins has employed for four of her previous wins.
"She's very well and actually did a good bit of work (on Tuesday)," said the trainer.
"Glens Melody will also take her chance and will be ridden by Paul Townend. She's been a lovely mare for us and will go to stud at the end of the season."
Donald McCain's Whiteoak claimed the inaugural contest in 2008 and the Cheshire trainer will bid for another success with Doyly Carte this time.
The six-year-old finished second to Annie Power at Doncaster but slightly disappointed when only fourth in the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso, although McCain felt the ground was against her.
He said: "Doyly Carte is a good mare and the ground was just too soft for her at Kelso. We are hoping it dries out a bit for her."