Cheltenham Mares' Hurdle Betting Tips, Odds & Analysis
Cheltenham Mares' Hurdle Tips
Created to reward connections who kept their Mares in training – and to give them a place on the big stage at the Cheltenham Festival – the Mares’ Hurdle is a 2m4f event that has been a Grade 1 since 2015. Run in memory of David Nicholson, who won five times as a jockey at The Festival, and seventeen as a trainer – it was first run in 2008 on the New Course, but was switched to the Old Course soon after. It has been dominated by Quevega, the six-time winner, and even more so by Willie Mullins, who has won the race nine times. The only other trainers to win it are Donald McCain Jr, Gordon Elliot, and Harry Skelton.
When & Where To Watch The Mares Hurdle
16.10 Tuesday, March 10 - LIVE ON: ITV Racing & Racing TV
The #Racehour Cheltenham Festival Preview Night.
The Main Contenders
The Main Contenders
It’s impossible to view the Mares Hurdle without looking at the two big contenders, Benie Des Dieux, and Honeysuckle. Benie Des Dieux, who looked certain to win this last year before falling at the last, has been unbeaten since, making amends easily at Punchestown before a brilliant win in the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil when she slammed the French superstar De Bon Coeur at Auteuil on her own turf, and she somehow managed to be just as impressive when thrashing Stayers Hurdle winning stablemate Penhill in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle by the incredible margin of 21 lengths.
Those are all performances that would more than entitle her to be going for the Stayers’ Hurdle – for which she is as short as 5/2 with BetVictor, but it seems as if the Mares’ is the most likely target. Indeed, owner Rich Ricci was also asked if the Champion Hurdle was a possibility on Irish Champions Weekend, but even with the same owners Sharjah disappointing (and Salidier being ruled out) she appears to be too stout for that contest.
Honeysuckle is absolutely not too stout for the Champion Hurdle – indeed, she won the Irish Champion Hurdle, but her connections have declared that they are heading for the Mares’ Hurdle.
Honeysuckle showed real guts to get over the line in the Irish Champion Hurdle, but her most impressive performance came in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, when she crushed Barcardys and Apple’s Jade by nine lengths, and it’s understandable connections are looking towards the Mares’ Hurdle with her, potentially giving us one of the clashes of the entire National Hunt Horse Racing season if both of these mares line up.
Third favourite is Stormy Ireland, who was second last year before finishing runner-up (and by a much wider margin compared to the Festival) behind Benie Des Dieux. She didn’t quite fire in the Prix La Barka behind two of her stablemates, and she has won all three of her stars this season, winning the Grabel Mares Hurdle, the Irish EBF Mares Hurdle, and the Limestone Lad Hurdle all with ease. She might well be a stronger horse this year, but the one caveat for those who may end up backing her each-way is the factor of a lot more pressure up at the front end here, although she rallied very well to finish second in last year’s Mares’ Hurdle.
The incredibly admirable Lady Buttons made it three wins from four starts this season when she took the Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle at Doncaster for the second successive year. She showed a great turn of foot and her typically brilliant attitude to claim victory there and there’s nothing not to like about the-uber versatile 10-year old (who chases as well as she hurdles), but she was a well beaten fourth in this last year and this might be an even hotter contest.
It remains to be seen which Apple’s Jade (25/1 Unibet) turns up here, or if she even does show up. If we get the same Apple’s Jade that won the Frank Ward Memorial Hurdle by the small margin of 17 lengths, then all of the contenders in this field have a major threat to deal with. If we get the Apple’s Jade that was pulled up the Galmoy Hurdle, then it’s unlikely that connections of either the top two will be quaking in their boots.
The on-off nature of Apple’s Jade since her wide margin Irish Champion Hurdle win last February has been a mystery to many, with only two good runs since – the first when a close up third in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree, the second with dominating at Leopardstown. Both those efforts came over three miles, and it’s possible she needs that trip, although it doesn’t explain her Galmoy no-show and punters must decide if the risk is worth the reward, assuming that she can put her best foot forward. Trading at 25/1, the punters are telling us an early story – that they are siding with more reliable contenders.
Magic Of Light was a game winner of the Warfield Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot for a second straight year, but the long term aim might well be another tilt at the Grand National, in which she was second last year. If connections decided to go for this contest, she would of course be a major player, but connections may well fancy going straight to Aintree once again.
Elimay has won four races on the bounce since finishing a well beaten sixth in this last year, and might be reliant on the ground being better this time around than it was last year – those wins came on yielding, good, soft and yielding ground and last year’s Mares’ Hurdle took place on ground that was closer to heavy.
Elifie was a creditable but well beaten second to Honeysuckle in the Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final last season, and having won two hurdles since, was then a decent but well held second to Stormy Ireland at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival. Third there – and beaten by 23 and a half lengths - was Black Tears, a taking winner of the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival recently off a mark of 133, underling the collective strength of that form.
Black Tears is clearly improved, but still has many lengths to find on the top mares in this race on all evidence.
Roksana The Each-Way Play
The fall of Benie Des Dieux at the last in 2019 ended up gifting the rest of the field a chance to take the race and Roksana (8/1 with BetVictor) eventually took the prize, having been left in front before wandering and then rallying when Stormy Ireland came back to her hind quarters to become just the second British trained winner of this event.
.@DSkeltonRacing will seek more Grade One glory with Roksana in the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle at @AintreeRaces and a Grade One is also on the agenda for Ch'tibello at the Liverpool venue next month. ⬇️https://t.co/5qA8X83lpX pic.twitter.com/Y5T6PFA2dM— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 24, 2019
Her season has been geared towards another tilt at this contest, and on two of three runs this season she’s put in strong efforts, finishing a neck second to Top Notch and then bouncing back from a poor run in the Ascot Hurdle when she was a good second in the Reelkeel to Summerville Boy. The Ascot Hurdle run would be a worry, but Harry Skelton apparently said that she was rushed back from her seasonal debut whilst also racing too close to the pace, and the Reelkeel second was much more like it.
Summerville Boy backed up that form when second in the Cleeve afterwards and if Roksana runs to form then few horses – bar the top two – can match her level of form she is an appealing each-way bet.
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If we have a clash between Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle then we are in for one of the races of the Festival, assuming both shoe their best form. Both are first rate horses, but Benie’s best performances – notably her Auteuil destruction job and her romp in the Galmoy Hurdle – give her the edge over the tenacious and classy Honeysuckle, who showed tremendous versatility to land the the Irish Champion Hurdle and who is capable of giving her a proper race.
If things go to market order, then there would be one each-way place up for grabs and that can go to last year’s winner Roksana, who ran a fine race in the Reelkeel on New Year’s Day after a change of training and tactics from a disappointing run in the Ascot Hurdle. Not many mares can match her form and we know that the ground will not be a problem.
David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle 2020 Result Prediction
- Benie Des Dieux
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