The Mares Hurdle was first run at the Cheltenham Festival in 2008, and this 2 Miles 4 Furlongs contest for Mares-only is now traditionally the fifth race of the festival, run directly after the Champion Hurdle on the Tuesday. The race is synonymous with Quevega, who won it on six successive occasions between 2009 and 2014 to become the most winning horse at the Cheltenham Festival.
Irish trained horses have won 9 of the 10 renewals
Willie Mullins has trained 8 of the 10 winners
Ruby Walsh has ridden 7 of the 10 winners
9 of the 10 winners have been rated 150 or higher
SP’s have ranged from 4/7 to 20/1
5-year-olds and 7-year-old have each won three renewals
Last year’s winner has continued her outstanding form since and, having now won 5 races on the bounce, she is a worthy short-priced favourite on her achievements so far this season. However, though trainer Gordon Elliott has stated he thinks this will be her best chance of success at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018, connections have the option of the Stayers’ Hurdle after she proved herself over 3-Miles last time.
Not seen out so far this season, but that was the case in the last two-years. In 2016 she won once in January before winning at the Cheltenham Festival, and in 2017 she won once in February before finishing third to Apple’s Jade at the Festival. However, it’s worth remembering that she was sent-off favourite for the 2017 Mares’ Hurdle and, though she disappointed slightly in third, it’s worth remembering that not all the Willie Mullins horses ran well last year.
Finished 9-lengths behind Apple’s Jade when the pair met in 2016, after which she won four races on the bounce culminating in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival. Then suffered three straight defeats before getting back on track last time, but even that impressive 8-length win leavers her with something to find with Apple’s Jade.
Vroum Vroum Mag
The 2016 Mares’ Hurdle Winner made a valiant attempt to defend her crown last season, but found Apple’s Jade 1½-lengths too good. More significantly, perhaps, it was notable that Ruby Walsh preferred Limini last season, despite that one finishing a nose third behind her stablemate.
The four Irish Mares set a pretty high-target for all the other mares to aim at and, though the last-flight fall of Annie Power in 2015 shows anything can happen in racing, it will be a big shock if one of the aforementioned quartet don’t take this prize back to Ireland. If Apple’s Jade lines-up she will be very hard to beat, but she could yet head to the Stayers’ Hurdle. Therefore, as it looks like 8-time winning trainer Willie Mullins is likely to give Limini the same light-campaign as he did 6-time winner Quevega, Limini looks the value in the ante-post markets as Ruby Walsh obviously considered her a better horse than Vroum Vroum Mag when riding her in last season’s renewal.