Cheltenham Mares’ Hurdle Tips: 2022 Betting Preview & Trends

Cheltenham Mares’ Hurdle Tips: 2022 Betting Preview & Trends
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The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle was first run in 2008, in honour of successful jockey and trainer David Nicholson, and was upgraded to Grade 1 status in 2015.

The race now regularly attracts the best mares in training from both sides of the Irish Sea, not least 2020 winner Honeysuckle, who has since gone on to become champion hurdler. With this being a Grade 1 race on the first day of the festival, punters are naturally keen to check out Mares' Hurdle tips before placing their bets at the best horse racing betting sites.

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Tips

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No race at the Cheltenham Festival has been dominated by Irish-trained runners as much as the Mares’ Hurdle, with the prize heading to the Emerald Isle on 12 out of 14 occasions. Irish runners dominate ante-post betting lists once again in 2022.

Willie Mullins in particular has targeted the two-and-a-half-mile contest on a regular basis and the Closutton trainer has often been responsible for the short-priced Mares’ Hurdle favourite, although that is not the case in 2022, which looks to be a much more open renewal than usual.

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Runners in Focus

Here's an in-depth look at some of the leading contenders for the 2022 Mares' Hurdle:

Telmesomethinggirl Heads Wide-Open Betting Market

Henry De Bromhead won the Mares’ Hurdle with Honeysuckle in 2020 and although Telmesomethinggirl is never going to scale the heights of her stablemate, she brings form to the table.

A hugely impressive five-and-a-half length winner of the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, she wasn’t able to build on that when upped to three miles at Punchestown the following month.

However, the 7-year-old posted a career-best performance on the numbers in the Grade 3 Mares Hurdle at Leopardstown at the end of December. She came home strongly from off the pace to get within just over a length of winner Royal Kahala and may well have won that contest had she not been tightened for room as she was about to launch her challenge.

That suggests Telmesomethinggirl is coming to the boil nicely and the step back up slightly in trip ought to suit, so she looks an obvious starting point when considering Mares’ Hurdle tips - but she is hardly unbeatable.

Her supporters will also be buoyed by studying Mares' Hurdle trends - as mares her age have won five of the last seven editions of the race.

The winner of the aforementioned Leopardstown contest, Royal Kahala, was the favourite in Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle betting at Cheltenham in 2021. But she finished lame and is clearly much better than she was able to show there.

She looks well-suited to a strongly-run event because she’s a strong traveller that picks up, and she should get the race run to suit come March, so she’s a big player.

Stormy Ireland a Leading Contender

Willie Mullins is the trainer to follow in the Mares’ Hurdle. The prize has gone to his Closutton stable an incredible nine times and his runners are sure to feature in Mares’ Hurdle tips from most Cheltenham pundits.

Mullins often saddles a standout form contender like Annie Power or Quevega but that isn’t the case in 2022, where Stormy Ireland looks one of the stronger chances from his eight entries.

Appreciate It Wins the 2021 Supreme Novices' Hurdle

Stormy Ireland, who was second in the 2019 Mares’ Hurdle, is a Grade 1 winner courtesy of her seven-length success in the Mares’ Champion Hurdle at Punchestown last spring, and she bounced back from a couple of below-par efforts by making all the running in the Relkeel Hurdle at Prestbury Park on New Year’s Day.

She would have gone close to winning that Grade 2 event even if favourite Brewin’upastorm hadn’t come down at the last flight. That form looks at least as strong as any of her Mares’ Hurdle rivals can muster at this stage.

Stormy Ireland isn’t the most consistent of mares and her front-running style isn’t always easy to pull off in big-field events at Cheltenham, especially if she is forced to go a stride quicker than she ideally wants. But that aside, she heads to the festival as a leading form contender and is third-favourite in Mares' Hurdle odds at most of the best betting sites.

Victory Could Drop Back in Trip

Mullins’ Burning Victory also has Grade 1-winning form in the book having won the 2020 Triumph Hurdle, although she wouldn’t have done if Goshen had negotiated the final flight.

She finished in front of some talented rivals when third in the Christmas Hurdle in December. But she is still to really convince that three miles is her trip and connections must be tempted to drop her back in distance for the mares’ race because she would hold strong claims back against her own sex.

Versatile ground-wise, she would likely get the race run to suit at Cheltenham and her ante-post price of 10/1 rates decent value. She heads our Mares’ Hurdle tips shortlist.

It looks an interesting move from Mullins that he has given a Mares’ Hurdle entry to Concertista, who was beaten a head when sent off a short-priced favourite in 2021.

She has looked good over the bigger obstacles this season and heads ante-post betting lists for the Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase, so it will be a surprise if that doesn’t end up being her target - but it looks interesting that connections have given themselves this option.


Read More: Check out the best Cheltenham offers for 2022


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Brook a Lone Raider for Elliott

Gordon Elliott has saddled a winner and two places from just four runners in the Mares’ Hurdle - and it's interesting that the County Meath-based trainer relies solely on the improving Queens Brook in 2022.

Her only previous visit to Prestbury Park resulted in a fine third in the 2020 Champion Bumper behind Ferny Hollow and Appreciate It, two top-class performers.

Although she didn’t pull up any trees last term over hurdles, her four-length victory over Ciel De Neige (dual winner over fences since and now a candidate for Grade 1 novice chase honours) in November is a career-best on the numbers. It was interesting to hear her trainer state afterwards that he still didn’t think that she was anywhere near fully fit.

With the prospect of more to come, she looks a fascinating contender and her 16/1 ante-post price might look generous come March, so don’t be surprised if she features among Mares’ Hurdle tips.

Sky the Pick of the Domestic Team

Martello Sky was well-beaten by Telmesomethinggirl in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle last year but she is a winner of four of her last five starts, two of which have come at Prestbury Park. Right now she looks just about the best mare trained in England.

The Lucy Wadham-trained 6-year-old took some notable scalps in a warm Listed race for mares at Sandown on Tolworth Hurdle day, notably that of the Willie Mullins-trained Gauloise.

Martello Sky handles soft ground well so she won’t mind if the track is wet come March but her official rating of 144 surely leaves her vulnerable in Grade 1 company, even in mares-only company.


Read More: Check out Cheltenham 2022 Gold Cup tips


Belle a Potential Improver for Skelton

Dan Skelton won the Mares’ Hurdle with Roksana in 2019, who was only rated 142 on the day of the race, but Elle Est Belle is still a low 130s mare according to the handicapper, so needs to progress if she is to be competitive in a Grade 1.

Brook a Lone Raider for Elliott

Gordon Elliott has saddled a winner and two places from just four runners in the Mares’ Hurdle - and it's interesting that the County Meath-based trainer relies solely on the improving Queens Brook in 2022.

Her only previous visit to Prestbury Park resulted in a fine third in the 2020 Champion Bumper behind Ferny Hollow and Appreciate It, two top-class performers.

Although she didn’t pull up any trees last term over hurdles, her four-length victory over Ciel De Neige (dual winner over fences since and now a candidate for Grade 1 novice chase honours) in November is a career-best on the numbers. It was interesting to hear her trainer state afterwards that he still didn’t think that she was anywhere near fully fit.

With the prospect of more to come, she looks a fascinating contender and her 16/1 ante-post price might look generous come March, so don’t be surprised if she features among Mares’ Hurdle tips.

Sky the Pick of the Domestic Team

Martello Sky was well-beaten by Telmesomethinggirl in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle last year but she is a winner of four of her last five starts, two of which have come at Prestbury Park. Right now she looks just about the best mare trained in England.

The Lucy Wadham-trained 6-year-old took some notable scalps in a warm Listed race for mares at Sandown on Tolworth Hurdle day, notably that of the Willie Mullins-trained Gauloise.

Martello Sky handles soft ground well so she won’t mind if the track is wet come March but her official rating of 144 surely leaves her vulnerable in Grade 1 company, even in mares-only company.


Read More: Check out Cheltenham 2022 Gold Cup tips


Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Odds

RunnerOdds
Queens Brook9/2 with bet365
Stormy Ireland9/2 with William Hill
Telmesomethinggirl9/2 with William Hill
Echoes In Rain8/1 with 888sport
Burning Victory10/1 with 888sport
  • Odds correct as of 15/03/2022 - For full latest odds head over to FansBet

Mares’ Hurdle Trends

  • Irish trainers dominate this race: Irish-trained runners have won 12 of the 14 editions. Willie Mullins, in particular, is a trainer to focus on having won the race an incredible nine times (Quevega won the race six years in succession).
  • Market points the way: 10 of the 14 Mares’ Hurdle winners were sent off first or second-favourite on the day.
  • Proven winners need only apply: All bar one of the 14 Mares’ Hurdle winners had already won at least twice over hurdles.
  • Recent form is important: 11 of the 14 winners won their final start before they went to Cheltenham.
  • Class counts: 10 of the 14 winners were rated at least 150 and 13 winners had been placed at least at Grade 2 level.
  • Colour code: This one is a bit quirky, but every one of the 14 Mares’ Hurdle winners has been BAY in colour.

Recent Cheltenham Mares' Hurdle Winners

YEARWINNER
2021Black Tears
2020Honeysuckle
2019Roksana
2018Benie Des Dieux
2017Apple's Jade
2016Vroum Vroum Mag
2015Glens Melody
2014Quevega
2013Quevega
2012Quevega

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Verdict

The 2022 edition of the Mares’ Hurdle has a very open feel to it but that might not be the case come the day as Willie Mullins trims his squad down.

Mares’ Hurdle trends certainly point punters in the way of Mullins-trained runners, the pick of which might just be BURNING VICTORY, who was placed against the boys in Grade 1 company over the festive period.

She hasn’t really screamed that three miles is her trip so far, so dropping her back half a furlong looks an obvious option and she is a proven Cheltenham Festival performer, having won the 2019 Triumph Hurdle.

Last year’s Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle winner Telmesomethinggirl looks an obvious danger for a stable that won the race with Honeysuckle in 2020.

Gordon Elliott relies solely on Queens Brook, which could be a tip in itself given how good she looked at Fairyhouse in November.

Of the home challenge, Martello Sky probably sets the standard.

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