RACING boff Gaurav Chaddah (@Gchaddahjourno) analyses the field for the Mares Hurdle at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.
Mares Hurdle | Tuesday 12th March 2019, 16:10 | ITV1
We could have had a vintage renewal of this race had Apples Jade and Laurina come down this route but they both have been sent to the Champion Hurdle instead, leaving this race a little bare and difficult to see past the favourite Benie Des Dieux, who is available at 10/11 with Ladbrokes to retain the crown she won 12 months ago.
Willie Mullins loves this race, having trained nine of the last 10 winners and has no fewer than five runners for this year’s assault, and it’s difficult to see past the stable’s first string.
We haven’t seen her since last April, where she followed up success in the Mares’ by winning the Punchestown equivalent, both times beating Champion Hurdle favourite Apples Jade in the process.
That would be the worry – 318 days off the track but Mullins is a specialist in making sure horses are ready for the big day regardless of time spent off the track. There’s no better case than Quevaga, who trained by Mullins, won this race six years on the bounce, with five of them victories coming on her first start of the season and I don’t see any reason why he can’t follow that here.
Mullins also has each-way claims in the shape Elimay, (25/1 William Hill) and Limini, (9/1 William Hill) who was third in the race in 2017 whilst Lady Buttons, (12/1 Bet365) could be the best from Britain, although may struggle against her Irish opposition.
It’s a boring selection but it’s difficult see beyond the favourite here.
Mares Hurdle – Benie Des Dieux to win (10/11 Ladbrokes)