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4.10 Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle
Tuesday 15 March | Age: 4yo+ | Prize: £67,524
The Mares’ Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race that 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.
The Mares’ hurdle has been a race over the years where it’s gone to a Willie Mullins hot pot, as he has seemingly farmed this race over the last ten plus years. However, in the last few years it looks like the tide could be changing, and I’m siding with the recent trend of siding away from Willie’s horses, and my selection in this race was cemented when I tipped her up around three weeks ago, and it was a clear prep for this race.
Starting off with Willie’s horses, he has three in this race this year. BURNING VICTORY, was a previous Cheltenham festival winning from back in 2020 in the Triumph hurdle. She has had a mixture of flat and jumps runs since then, running a big race to finish 2nd in the Newmarket Cesarewitch, and has since won a Grade 3 beating QUEENS BROOK. ECHOES IN RAIN is the mount of Patrick Mullins, and I think it’s fair to say this horse has been underwhelming. She came onto the scene with some monster performances at the back end of last season, including a Grade 1 win at Punchestown. She has tried to mix it with some of the Champion Hurdle contenders this year, which has seen her run OK, but she will find this test a lot easier, but has to prove she stays this far, with this being her first attempt at the trip. I think it’s interesting that Paul Townend has opted to ride STORMY IRELAND, who has bags of ability on her day, but you know what she’s going to do, and that’s to run from the front. She has run well in this race in the past, finishing 2nd to Roksana in 2019, and has won Graded races since then, including a Grade 1 in May last year. The problem for her is the fact WESTERN VICTORY & HEAVEN HELP US also like to lead, so they could pester Stormy Ireland, and it could turn into a burn up.
A strong pace is what Queen’s Brook will want, as she looks a thorough stayer on this trip. She might’ve wanted the ground slightly slower than what she’ll get, but the strong pace on offer and the stiff track will hopefully counter that and play to her strengths. She is my play in this race, and I tipped her up a few weeks ago, where she was given a terrible ride, all things considered. I was angry at the ride, as he let the leader get an easy lead-up front, and sat far too back to cause him problems, before staying on very well in the dying strides to finish 1.5L behind Burning Victory. That run was clearly a prep run for this race, and I was convinced she would run very well in this, after watching that display at Punchestown.
For the English, they have MARIE’S ROCK, who should love today’s ground and will bounce off it. She was very impressive last time out at Warwick where she travelled beautifully and put the race to bed, beating INDEFATIGABLE into third. The latter named horse is always a horse you can’t write off, especially at Cheltenham, as she always seems to find her form, as shown by winning the final race of the 2020 Festival in the Martin Pipe, and then finished 4th in this race last year.
TELMESOMETHINGGIRL will be well supported for the same connections of Honeysuckle, and you’d have to say rightly so. She produced arguably the best piece of recent form to finish 3rd, 1.25L behind Royal Kahala just after Christmas. The winner has since won a Grade 2, and even though this horse was behind Heaven Help Us, she was giving away 8lbs to the runner-up.
Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle Tips
- Queens Brook 7/2 @ The Pools
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