Mares’ Hurdle Tips, Betting Offers and Odds
Mares’ Hurdle Preview: Tips, Betting Offers and Odds
The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle is yet another Grade 1 race on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival. Open to mares aged four or older, the Mares’ Hurdle is run over two miles, four furlongs and has nine hurdles along the way.
Willie Mullins has dominated this race in recent years with nine wins (Quevega accounts for six of those!) but we have two really good horses battling it out at the top of the betting this year. It should be a real cracker and here are our tips!
Mares’ Hurdle Tips and 2020 Race Preview
The decision by connections of Honeysuckle to enter her in the Mares’ Hurdle rather than the Champion Hurdle would, in many other years, be considered something of a bottle job. The latter race is supposed to be home to the best hurdlers in racing but the horse that many believe to be the best of the lot, Benie Des Dieux, is heading to the Mares’ Hurdle looking to avenge last year’s defeat.
Willie Mullins knows all about the Mares’ Hurdle having trained Quevaga to six consecutive wins from 2009 to 2014. When Benie Des Dieux won in 2018 it looked as though he had another star who would dominate this race and everything went perfectly last year. Right until the final set of hurdles in this race where Benie Des Dieux fell for no discernible reason. Thankfully, there has been no long term impact from that shock and she’s subsequently won on three more occasions.
Benie Des Dieux is a fabulous hurdler and deserves her position at the head of the betting for the Mares’ Hurdle. She does face some stiff opposition though including Honeysuckle. If you are looking for an each way option though, consider the 20/1 that Coral are quoting on the experienced Lady Buttons. She ran well in this race 12 months ago and has every chance of following the leaders home to earn a place at really big odds.
Mares’ Hurdle Previous Winners
- 2019 – Roksana – jockey Harry Skelton, trainer Dan Skelton
- 2018 – Benie Des Dieux – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2017 – Apple’s Jade – jockey Bryan Cooper, trainer Gordon Elliott
- 2016 – Vroum Vroum Mag – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2015 – Glen’s Melody – jockey Paul Townend, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2014 – Quevega – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2013 – Quevega – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2012 – Quevega – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2011 – Quevega – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2010 – Quevega – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2009 – Quevega – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2008 – Whiteoak – jockey Jason Maguire, trainer Donald McCain, Jr.
Mares’ Hurdle Trends – Quevega’s Dominance Skews Stats
As one of the newer additions to the Cheltenham Festival the Mares’ Hurdle is one of those races which punters are still trying to get their heads around. The 2m4f race is a top class contest which always attracts entries from some of the best mares around but profiling a winner is no easy task for a few reasons.
The most obvious of these is the dominance of Quevega in the race’s early history. Willie Mullins’ wonder mare did great things for the anticipation and calibre of the Mares’ Hurdle but her six wins have had a major impact on the stats which is something punters must be very aware of.
Favourites Often Prevail
The trends will show you that a high percentage of the Mares’ Hurdle winners were sent off as the favourite. Look a little deeper and you’ll see that Quevega was the favourite for all six of her wins and that winning favourites have been much rarer since she left the stage.
Similarly, Quevega was 10 when she won her sixth Mares’ Hurdle but generally speaking this is a race for younger horses with six and seven-year-olds particularly favoured.
It’s a little different with the record of trainers though. In addition to his six wins with Quevega, Willie Mullins’ vice like grip of the race was further strengthened with wins from Glens Melody, Vroum Vroum Mag and Benie Des Dieux. You can take nothing away from the feat of training required to get any of those horses prepared to win the Mares’ Hurdle but talk of the dominance of Irish trainers should be taken into context as Gordon Elliott was the only victorious other Irish trainer in the first 11 renewals of the race.
It is worth noting that between 2009 and 2018 there were well over 100 British runners but just 10 claimed even a place.
Mares’ Hurdle History
Having been added to the festival offering in 2008, this contest is one of the newer events to appear over the four days. Originally taking place on the final day, the race was moved to its current opening day slot the year after. Despite its relative youth this 2m4f contest has already featured its fair share of scintillating performances and drama.
Initially known as the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, the race is still officially registered under this title despite the sponsorship provided by OLBG from 2011. David Nicholson certainly earned his right to have a festival contest named in his honour given the remarkable success he enjoyed at the jewel in jumps racing’s crown. The man who affectionately came to be known as “The Duke” won five festival races as a jockey and 17 as a trainer.
The inaugural running of the race was won by a short head in a thrilling finish by Donald McCain Jr’s five-year-old Whiteoak. The race was taken by a five-year-old again in 2009 but this time the race was over a long way before the finish line, as Willie Mullins’ Quevega sauntered to a 14 length success. Little did we know at the time but this was just the beginning of a record breaking sequence for this superstar mare.
Nothing could touch this daughter of Robin Des Champs from 2009-2014 as she rattled in six consecutive wins in this race. When collaring stablemate Glens Melody close home in 2014, she surpassed the Cheltenham Festival record of the legendary Golden Miller who won five consecutive Gold Cups in the 1930’s. On the back of Quevega’s heroics the race was upgraded to Grade 1 status in 2015 having previously been a Grade 2 contest.
Quevega was retired in 2014 but the Mullins dominance was set to continue into 2015. The 2015 Mares Hurdle will live long in the memory of both punters and bookmakers. Following a stellar opening day at the festival for supporters of Willie Mullins, as his hotpots, Douvan, Un de Sceaux and Faugheen all won, there was a fortune running on to the heavily favoured Annie Power in this race.
The bookies hid behind their satchels as Annie Power strode away from the field approaching the final fence… only to completely misjudge it and crash to the turf. A fall which it is estimated saved the bookies around £40 million. It was 2014 second Glens Melody who was left to pick up the pieces and provide Mullins with his seventh win in the first eight editions of this race. Mullins followed up in 2016 with yet another win, this time with Vroum Vroum Mag.
In 2017 we had something remarkable though: a winner not trained by Willie Mullins, as Apple’s Jade romped home for Gordon Elliott. Mullins restored the natural order for the race the following year though as he saddled Benie Des Dieux to success in 2018, giving him his ninth win from just 11 renewals! 2019 was another non-Mullins win though as Roksana won for Dan Skelton.