- 1:30 Supreme Novices Hurdle
- 2:10 Arkle Chase
- 2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase
- 3:30 Champion Hurdle
- 4:10 Mares Hurdle
- 4:50 Northern Trust Novices Chase
- 5:30 National Hunt Chase Cup
- 1:30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle
- 2:10 RSA Chase
- 2:50 Coral Cup
- 3:30 Champion Chase
- 4:10 Cross Country Chase
- 4:50 Boodles Handicap Hurdle
- 5:30 Champion Bumper
- 1:30 Marsh Novices Chase
- 2:10 Pertemps Final Hurdle
- 2:50 Ryanair Chase
- 3:30 Stayers Hurdle
- 4:10 Brown Advisory Plate
- 4:50 Dawn Run Mares Hurdle
- 5:30 Kim Muir Chase Cup
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.
Gordon Elliott saddles old favourite Apples Jade, she won this race in 2017 and was third to Benie Des Dieux twelve months later. Last year connections made the brave decision on going for the Champion Hurdle instead which slightly backfired as she could only manage a well beaten 6th.
Since then it’s been a tale of disappointment really with her failing to spark on a couple of big occasions. She did turn up and win the Frank Ward Hurdle at Christmas time which was nice to see but then next time out pulled up behind Benie Des Dieux at Gowran.
Elliott has said this could be her swansong so lets hope she goes out on a high. Stablemate Black Tears has come back to form lately and deserves her place in the line-up. She has been playing second fiddle to Stormy Ireland this year finishing behind that mare at both Leopardstown and Punchestown but last time got her head back in front when lowered into a handicap for the first time.
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.
Nicky Henderson has a useful mare in Verdana Blue, she was another one swayed by the Champion Hurdle last season and was a decent 5th behind Envoi Allen. She is a superb traveller on good ground and the only problem here is the trip. She has only raced over 2m4f once in 17 starts and that was back in 2017 when she came 3rd. If she can tuck in behind the pace and be delivered with one big run she could get involved.Punters Lounge Tip: Honeysuckle 2/1 at Betfair - Click Here To Bet