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In recent times the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle has been in the firing line as it's deemed to be a race that dilutes the Festival as it takes away the quality Mares who could run in the Champion races like the Champion Hurdle or Stayers'.

Lossiemouth in this year's race is the prime example of a horse who should probably be capable of winning a Champion Hurdle. However, this year's race looks like a really great renewal and despite the favourite being extremely short and at a price, you can't really get stuck into, I think this race is a belter and there are still questions to be asked about the trip with the favourite, so there are betting options against her.

Cheltenham 4:10 – No Bet

Even though I do have doubts about the stamina of Lossiemouth over 2m 4f on testing ground around a stiff track like Cheltenham, it's not enough for me to part with my money as she is the class horse on the day and if he does stay, she'll win this race on the bridle.

The manner in which Lossiemouth has progressed since Willie obtained her from France is extraordinary. She is such a talented horse, and she proved that by winning the Triumph Hurdle at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival last year, before going on to win another Grade 1 at Punchestown. On her first start in open company, she ran away with a Grade 2 at this track over 2m 1f and the manner in which she won was special. She cruised through the race and battered some very useful horses in the process and on the back of that performance, I was hoping she'd go to the Champion Hurdle. In hindsight, Willie is right (who'd have thought) she is only a 5yo and has time on her side, despite Constitution Hill not turning up to Cheltenham, she has all the time in the world to attempt a Champion Hurdle route. Granted, she might not have a better opportunity, but she is far from her peak, and that's a scary thought. Given how much speed she has, it is not impossible to see her not staying the trip today, but she has the pedigree to counter that. If she was to take a drift to EVS I'd be more than happy to have a play on her, but with the Mullins Day 1 short-priced favourite accas likely to be strong, I can't see a drift happening.

If you want to have an EW play or even go for a straight win against Lossiemouth here are a few of the notable horses to keep an eye out on:

Ashroe Diamond – Won nicely last time out, but I struggle seeing her being able to compete with Lossiemouth, despite Patrick Mullins really liking her chances of running a belter.

Echoes In Rain – Fourth in this race last year, and I think Lossiemouth is better than last year's version of Honeysuckle, so should struggle to get close. Can be free going, which is a big concern at this trip and at this track on testing ground.

Gala Marceau – Has been the bridesmaid for Lossiemouth, finishing behind her on three occasions last year, twice as runner-up. She did finish ahead of her at the DRF, but Lossiemouth didn't get the clearest of runs in that race. Place claims at a trip which should suit.

Lantry Lady – Clearly a very talented mare, winning 2/2 coming in this race. Looks to have plenty of ability, but the level form is up for debate, but she easily improved for the step up in trip and has already proven she handles the ground. Rachael Blackmore opts for Telmesomethinggirl.

Love Envoi – Great mare who is just below the Grade 1 level. Her rating would suggest she has places claims, which she does, proven by finishing 2nd in this race last year. Will give it a good crack, but should fall short.

Marie's Rock – I'm not Marie's Rock's biggest fan, she is a good horse on her day, but her keen-going nature is really off-putting. It's good to see that connections are running her in this race over the Stayer's as she would have no chance staying 3m on testing ground around Cheltenham with the way she pulls. She was firmly put in her place by Bob Olinger and form over 3m at Doncaster looks below par to win a race like this.

Telmesomethinggirl – Won at the festival in 2021, was going well in this race in 2022 when brought down. Life over fences didn't go to plan, but she is slowly refinding her feet back over hurdles. I tipped her up a few runs ago and she looked in need of the run, but she has been improving for every run. It's interesting that Blackmore has picked this mare over the other two De Bromhead horses. Dark horse for this, don't rule her out.

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