4.10 Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle
Tuesday 10 March | Age: 4yo+ | Prize: £120,000
The Mares’ Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race which is open to mares aged four years or older. First run in 2008, it is one of the newer races at the Festival and is run on the New Course.
THIS race promises to be a fascinating clash between two fantastic mares in the shape of Benie Des Deaux and Honeysuckle.
I really can't separate them and from a win perspective I might have to just sit on the fence.
If you had to push me I would probably opt for Benie because she has had a very light campaign this year and should be fresh for this. If it turns into a battle between the two from a long way out she might have more in reserve.
There is no value in a bet on Benie though and I'm looking for each way value elsewhere.
As discussed on our Gambla Preview Podcast it looks like STORMY IRELAND is the clear each way selection. She finished second last year albeit in a weaker renewal but would have been 3rd if Benie had stayed on her feet at the last.
Stormy Ireland has improved again this year though and looks a bit classier. She will stay the trip no problem at all and soft ground is perfect for her so I think 12-1 is good value.
Although there are 10 runners there are only 5 in with a shout.
The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle has thrown together a fascinating match-up between Irish duo BENIE DES DIEUX and Honeysuckle.
The market favours the former and, like Honeysuckle, she was spoken of as a genuine Champion Hurdle contender before connections opted for this easier route.
Honeysuckle has a huge fan club after racking up a string of victories on home soil but meets a potential superstar.
This appears to be a two-horse race between Benie Des Dieux & Honeysuckle.
Both mares are quality horses, and probably should be running in one of the champion races such as the Champion Hurdle or Stayers.
Benie would have won this race last year with ease, if she didn’t fall at the last hurdle under Ruby Walsh. She didn’t let that stop her and she won the Punchestown Mares Grade 1 by 9 lengths, and then went to France and beat their wonder mare De Bon Couer by 6.5 lengths.
Honeysuckle is the new girl on the block and is unbeaten over hurdles, winning her last seven. She recently won the Irish Champion Hurdle, but that trip didn’t look to suit her, and she’ll be more at home over 2m 4f. Prior to that she was smashing everything in her way, but tomorrow she’ll face her toughest task in Benie Des Dieux.
I’d probably side with Benie, but I wouldn’t suggest backing her at them odds (8/11), unless you’re putting her in an accumulator. I feel like she is too strong for Honeysuckle, who will have to settle for second.
With only 3 places on offer, it’s hard to suggest an EW alternative as the top 2 are taken up by the top 2 in the market, if all things go well.
Roksana won this race last year, but she hasn’t been the same horse this year, and her form doesn’t look as good.
I’d side with Stormy Ireland, if I was to have an EW play in the race. She finished second last year behind Roksana, but it’s fair to say she’s improved from last year and will reverse the form with her.
Lady Buttons is a lovely horse, but 2m 4f on soft ground around Cheltenham will probably test her stamina a bit too much, like last year where she finished fourth, 16 lengths behind the winner.
Catch the Voice of Valaue's ante-post thoughts on the Championship and novice Races at the Festival in his indepth podcasts with John Egan and Chris Dickson.
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