Mares Novices Hurdle is the newest race at the Cheltenham Festival and this will only be the third running of the race, with Willie Mullins already stamping his authority and winning the first two. It is a race that trainers have been asking for, because the mares program is lacking in big targets, so I expect we will always see a big field for the race. Hopefully it will also become a stepping stone for horses to move onto the Mares Hurdle at the festival, and we could see horses winning this race before going on an winning the Mares Novice Hurdle Cheltenham.
The race is ran over 2M1F, so the quickest mares over jumps will be in action, although one area that may make things difficult is because some horses may be dually engaged, and they may take another option. There are many novice races, all open to mares and if a mare is good enough she may go and take on the boys instead of battling it out in this race against the girls. This should be cleared up throughout the season, and only an exceptional mare would take her chance against the boys.
|Favourites||Horse||Odds||Best Bookmaker||Mares Novices’ Hurdle Tips|
|#1||Fayonagh||3/1||Read Fayonagh Preview Here|
|#2||Daphne Du Clos||12/1||Read Daphne Du Clos Preview Here|
It will take some exceptional performances throughout the season for a mare to take on the boys in a standard novice event, instead of trying to win the Dawn Run Novice Hurdle. That means while it isn’t clear cut who will run in the race, you can pretty much guess the field that will line up. The horse that I think will win the race, and the horse who could be good enough to go up against the boys is Fayonagh. She won the Champion Bumper at the festival last season, storming up the hill to beat everything put in front of her. She really excites me and could be anything, Gordon Elliott has done very well with his mares recently, and Fayonagh can be the next on the list that he does well with. My only worry about backing her now is that she may go up against the boys in the Supreme Novice Hurdle, but if she does run in the mares race, she will be favourite and will take a lot of stopping.
Elsewhere I am really excited to see Daphne Du Clos over hurdles this season after getting a glimpse of what is to come last season. She ran just twice last season for Nicky Henderson after arriving from France, but showed huge promise on both outings. She was thrown in the deep end of debut, running in a Cheltenham listed race but she ran with great credit to come second, before following that up with a comfortable listed victory at Newbury. She really could be anything, and I can’t wait to see her get her hurdles career underway.
|Favourites||Horse||Odds||Best Bookmaker||Bet Now|
Fayonagh is a horse that many people will have their eye on this season, after seeing her dominate the flat races she ran in last season. The negative side to her is that she could be too good for the mares, and they may try and run her against the boys in the Supreme Novice Hurdle. However, should she stay with the mares then she would have an exceptional chance of dominating the race, and going on to dominate the Mares Hurdle a year later.
Fayonagh ran three times last season, winning all three races, two of which were Grade One contests. She won her final race of the season by over five lengths, slamming a field of horses who had previously shown some very good form. That is what makes her exciting, and this season is going to tell us a lot more about her.
If Gordon Elliott decides to keep her against her own sex, both as a novice and next year in open company then he could have another Apples Jade in his yard, a horse who won the Dawn Run Champion Hurdle for him last season, such is the potential that Fayonagh is showing us.
|Favourites||Horse||Odds||Best Bookmaker||Bet Now|
|#2||Daphne Du Clos||12/1||Bet Now|
By placing a bet on Daphne Du Clos you are hoping that she has come on a lot over the summer, and if she has then she is going to be an exciting prospect over hurdles this season. She came over to the UK and ran in two listed races, coming second on debut, before winning impressively at Newbury. The form of those two runs is good, without being exceptional, but if she can find improvement as she is expected to do then we could see Nicky Henderson unleash a star mare when she hits the track.
Daphne Du Clos is only four year old, so time is definitely on her side, another thing that makes her an extremely eye catching horse. She has shown us she knows how to win races, she has also shown she has speed, if we see her jumping a hurdle well then she will be much shorter for the Mares Hurdle that what she is now. She is still only young, and still has more to offer, but it is hard to not get excited by the potential Daphne Du Clos has. Plus, she boasts great Mares Hurdle odds.
Data for this race is minimal, with just two races ran so far. Both of those have been won by Willie Mullins, so it will pay to keep an eye on any horses that he enters in the race. He also has a good record with mares of any age, so keep an eye on the horses he picks out to run here.
|3||W.Mullins||2016, 2017, 2018|
This is a race that many trainers have been asking for now for a number of years, even more so since the Mares Hurdle was included at the festival. This is a great starting point for mares who are just short of top class, and unable to take on the boys in one of the open novice races. Exceptional mares may still take on the boys, but the rest will end up in this race.
The race is restricted to mares who are aged four year old or older, and the race is ran over the distance of two miles and one furlong. That brings speed into the race, and you will need a mare who can jump well at speed if you are to challenge for the Mares Novice Hurdle Cheltenham 2023.
|Location||Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham England|
|Race Type||hurdle race for novice mares only|
|Distance||Two miles and one furlong (2M1F)|
|Age||Four year and older|