Mares Hurdle Tips - 4:10pm Cheltenham

2020 David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle Preview

The Mares Hurdle was first run in 2008 and the inaugural winner was Whiteoak trained by Donald McCain, little did we know at that time what was to follow. Willie Mullins quickly sussed out a certain type of mare required to win this valuable pot and then went on to win it for the next 8 years, six of them with the superstar Quevega.

He won it again in 2018 with Benie Des Dieux and that horse was in the process of following up 12 months ago only to fall at the last when well clear. It was left to Dan Skelton’s 7yo Roksana to pick up the pieces who incidentally was chased home by Stormy Ireland and Good Thyne Tara, both trained by Mullins.

Benie Des Dieux has since won three races making it 11 victories in 18 starts overall over both codes, she really is a wonderful mare and that can deliver over any trip and on any ground.

She made amends for her fall here with a win at the Punchestown Festival, beating Stormy Ireland 9 ½ lengths which just about was the distance she would have beat that rival at Cheltenham. She then went to Auteuil for the valuable Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil over 3 miles and came home well clear of her field, that victory put her on an official mark of 162 and one of the highest rated mares ever. Only Quevega and Annie Power have been rated higher.

Last time out she won the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran in a canter, again that race was over three miles and many good judges think she should be going for the Stayers Hurdle this season. One thing Willie Mullins has always said about Cheltenham, go for the races you are most likely to win rather than the biggest prize. She is a short priced favourite here which tells you all you need to know.

For once she won’t have it all her own way as the highly talented and progressive 6yo Honeysuckle will give her plenty to think about. Again here’s a top horse with a dilemma, does she stick to her own sex and come or does she take a gamble and rock up in the Champion Hurdle over a shorter trip.

Honeysuckle has won all of her seven races over hurdles and only two of those have been over the minimum trip. She has started favourite on each occasion she has raced and won three Grade 1 prizes, two of those over this trip.

It has been a conundrum for connections as the Champion Hurdle is wide open this season but by running here it gives us a proper race to look forward too.

Honeysuckle comes here on the back of a victory in the Irish Champion at Leopardstown where she just got the better of Darver Star and Petit Mouchoir. That form alone would not be good enough for the Champion and in the end that probably has swayed the final decision.

Last year’s winner Roksana shouldn’t be forgotten although she hasn’t managed to win a race in four attempts since this race last season. Last time out she ran well to finish second behind Summerville Boy in the Relkeel Hurdle here and that will have put her spot for her defence.

Stormy Ireland has been in good form, she has been well placed to win three races this season and last time out won a Grade 3 contest at Naas by 6 lengths. She has now won almost £200,000 in win and place prize money which is not bad for a 150 rated hurdler. She was second here last season and if she can repeat that performance i'm sure connections would be happy.

Willie Mullins also saddles Elfie, she's only had seven starts over hurdles and has won four of them. She was 6th in the Mares Novice Hurdle here last season but has improved twn pounds since then and last time out won a Grade 3 contest at Punchestown from Black Tears. She looks the third string on paper but with very few options for her connections have decided to roll the dice and could well pick up some place money here.

Lady Buttons is a grand mare and she keeps doing her stuff over hurdles and fences, she has won three times this season and can certainly equal her fourth here last year if she turns up on form. Trainer Phil Kirby has placed her well but being a 10yo realises that this could be here last season at the top.

Punters Lounge Tip: Honeysuckle 5/2 at bet365 - Click Here To Bet
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