• Hands Heels

Mares’ Hurdle (Grade One)

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

15:40 Cheltenham 16/03

The Mare’s hurdle is a race that has been dominated by Irish trainers, with only Dan Skelton winning for the home team in 2019 with Roksana. Willie Mullins having a particularly good record winning it no less than 9 times! With last years runner Honeysuckle more than likely going to the Champion hurdle instead, the race appears to be much more open.

Mullins has an excellent chance with a strong hand as always, favourite Concertista is many people ‘Irish Banker’ for the whole festival, if not at least for day one. Winner of last years Mare’s Novice Hurdle at the festival, she has gone on to be even better this year winning graded mares races in Ireland the last twice. I like her form and she has done nothing wrong and I will be including her in any multiples on the day but 6/5 about her is short enough and won’t be my main selection for the race.

Roksana is next in the market, the 2019 winner of this race, who more recently has been campaigned over further, running with great credit against Paisley Park and Thyme Hill the two favourites for the Stayers. She may be looking to this race as an alternative for the stayers only because Honeysuckle’s absence makes her chance much greater having finished 12 lengths behind her in this last year. She is a brilliant mare and won on the bridle against the Mare’s over three miles last time out in a grade two, my main concern for her now is the trip as three miles really seems to get the best out of her and she might find the 2 miles 4 a bit quick. If the ground was soft or heavy her stamina would be utilised and I can see her having a great chance, but with dry weather forecast that seems less and less likely. The Skelton’s may end up swerving this and heading straight to Aintree with her.

Next is Honeysuckle who I will admit I have a bet on NRNB as if there is an unlikely change of heart she would not be 4/1 and if she doesn’t run no issue as money back. I don’t expect her to run here, but if she does then she wins.

After her we have Dame De Compagnie who has been chasing this year and it’s yet to be seen whether they will run her here or in the Mares’ Chase. A very good horse on her day who would have a chance if at her best, but I’m not willing to chance her in this due to her lack of good runs in a non handicap graded race. In fact in her two Graded races that weren’t handicaps she finished last in a grade two novice hurdle and was unseated in a grade one novice chase last time. I have my suspicions that a few other horse will have the beating of her this time.

Verdana blue is next at 14’s and worth a mention here, a very talented horse who never seems to quite get it done. With rattlingly quick ground, this dual flat/hurdles performer would surely have a chance in a race with little depth, usually running over two she may end up in this shallower race as opposed to the champion hurdle. Having placed in a 2 mile 4 flat race at Royal Ascot last year and then the Ebor, I think she could run well here but her disappointing start to the jumps season is enough to put me off. Beaten favourite on her first two starts before being absolutely stuffed in the International Hurdle. The break since may have freshened her up a little but I will be siding against her as well.

Black Tears interests me but has been backed in from 33/1 to 20/1 in the last couple of weeks so may be not such a great price. Considering her run in the Coral Cup last year where she narrowly was beaten by Dame De Compagnie, who is only 9/1 for this, despite carrying more weight that day. Her third to Concertista last time was decent enough form and I do fancy her to fill a place in this. I have backed ante-post at 33’s which I think is very good value but the bet I have found for her as a selection in this race is on William Hill, who as an enhanced special bet on there YourOdds section is 5/1 for her to be in the first 4 here. With some of the market leaders not running, top 4 is more likely and can see her price on the day being much shorter.

My other selection maybe more heart over head, but a horse I love is Whitehotchillifili who admittedly does have a lot to find with some of these, but did actually finish 6th of 17 in the mares’ novice at the festival last year won by Concertista. She did disappoint last time out but other than that she has run with credit this year, winning a Mares’ Listed race beating Stormy Ireland in spite of some poor jumping at the last. Stormy Ireland is an ex Willie Mullins horse, who finished second in this race in 2019. I think 66/1 for her is worth a small punt each way in a race which lacks depth. She may end up out the back of the telly but at 66/1 I’ll take the chance and hope she can sneak a place.


Black Tears finish first 4 (William Hill) 5/1 1pt

Whitehotchillifili 66/1 0.25pts each way

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