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Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Betting Tips
A new addition to the Cheltenham Festival calendar, the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle is run on Day 3 (Thursday 16th March) over two miles one furlong.
Our betting tips for this race will be online before the big race but, in the meantime, check out our Cheltenham Festival tips!
2016 saw the inaugural running of this race and an odds on success for the Willie Mullins’ trained Limini, and the Irish trainer has extremely strong claims again this year.
Let’s Dance, for leading owner Rich Ricci, took six attempts to get off the mark, meaning this is actually her second full season despite her novice status. She has improved with each run this season, taking increasingly competitive races in impressive fashion, including a Leopardstown Grade 2 on her latest start in January. She beat Noel Meade’s Joey Sasa by 17 lengths, who was a Grade 2 runner up on his next start, and the step back in trip will ensure she has plenty of stamina in reserves for the famous hill.
She holds entries to a number of other races but with a £50,000 bonus for stable staff if she wins a race at the Festival, she appears set to line up for the easiest event. Her main danger appears to be another Willie Mullins’ charge – Airlie Beach – who was an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle on her last start. However, she will face competition from La Bague Au Roi – the third favourite – for the lead, and she lacks the same turn of foot that our tip possesses.
Let’s Dance has won her last four starts over hurdles, the latest being a 6 length success in very taking fashion. She has improved with every run this season and heads into the festival with plenty more to come. The step back in trip won’t be an issue considering she faces the famous Cheltenham hill so her stamina reserves will be able to kick in near the finish. Her owner Rich Ricci is very sweet on her chances too, he mentioned at a Cheltenham preview night that she is his best bet of the week and when in conversation about the race he was quoted as saying, “If Let’s Dance runs, she wins”.
Unbeaten in seven rules starts, including a Grade 1 on her latest, Airlie Beach has been a revelation this season and easily dismissed the boys when repelling all challenges to surge clear again towards the finish. Possibly the most impressive element of that performance was her tendency to jump out left and still win with ease and, with her jumping improved, she is likely to progress even further. It is not hard to see why she is 4/1 to win the race as she has plenty of potential and is the classic Willie Mullins super mare in the making. She has previously won over further, so she will definitely stay this trip out strongly and will take some pegging back. If she were to do so, she would keep Willie Mullins’s 100% record on this race, winning both renewals.
Unbeaten over hurdles and only beaten once overall, La Bague Au Roi has been mightily impressive thus far over obstacles and dispatched of her rivals in a listed race at Newbury on her latest start. She has made all on all three starts so far, but she is likely to be taken on for that luxury in this with Airlie Beach another confirmed front-runner. However, she has tracked the pace before in bumpers to win so it is not too much of a concern. She does need to prove herself at graded level, but has shown enough potential in her three hurdling starts to suggest that it will not be out of reach and, with natural improvement, she has to be considered a danger in this race. Her only defeat came in a race with true ‘soft’ ground – the only time she raced on it – which could be a slight concern; however, overall she is a solid contender for Warren Greatrex.
A Grade 2 winner in bumpers, Kayf Grace comfortably won her first race over hurdles at Bangor and looks to have plenty of scope for progress this season. Going from strength to strength at present, Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old tracks the pace during her races before settling the race effortlessly with a brilliant turn of foot. She handled Prestbury Park well on her only visit in bumper company, staying on well up the hill and should have no problem doing the same again with obstacles in her way. Assistant trainer to Henderson, Toby Lawes, spoke very positively of her after the Bangor win, with the sky being very much the limit for this promising mare: “She is a lovely mare and we could not have wished for a better showing on her first run over hurdles. She can only go on from here“.
Bought after winning a point-to-point, the heavily touted Redhotfillypeppers finally made her debut under rules when winning a bumper at Punchestown in December. She ran on strongly that day and looked like an extremely promising prospect for this season, with Willie Mullins also impressed with the performance: “She’s a good strong mare with a real stamina-laden pedigree. She gallops all day and she jumps well at home. We’ll probably go for a winners bumper. She was quite green there and it was a nice start“. Whether she enters the Champion Bumper or this race is up for question, but considering how taking that performance was, Mullins may well opt to go novice hurdling sooner rather than later. A good jumper at home, when reappearing we should learn much more about her. However, there is no doubt that she has tremendous scope for progress and would be a danger to all.
Another for Willie Mullins, Camelia de Cotte made a mockery of her opponents when winning a maiden hurdle at Tramore in December in quite a taking performance. Ruby Walsh was extremely confident and knew he was on the winner throughout, as his interview after the race showed: “She settled relatively well. She had been a little bit keen at home. It wasn’t the strongest race on paper. At the second last, I heard something behind me and I just let out a bit of rein and she went about her business. It was a nice performance“. Regardless of the opposition, she travelled strongly throughout and generally jumped well in a polished performance. There is no telling where her potential finishes at this stage, and the Mullins/Rich Ricci combination won this race last year, so she has to be feared as she is more than likely to be another smart prospect.
Unbeaten under rules, Coillte Lass ran on very gamely to win a listed race at Taunton when dropped to this trip in December and is a mare firmly on the upgrade. Now with three wins under her belt over hurdles, she is steadily building her confidence and finds very generously for pressure. Despite Paul Nicholls being ‘a bit nervous about the drop back in trip‘, she proved it was no issue and is certainly a smart prospect for the future. A race like this seems suited perfectly for her as she will love the stamina test the hill provides and it will take an extremely game mare to manage to pass this six-year-old by Beneficial. According to Nicholls, there are ‘no real plans for her‘ but this seems one of the most likely targets and a best priced 16/1 could underestimate her potential.
As this is the second running of this race, there are currently no betting trends available.
The very first renewal of the race was won by Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh and owner Rich Ricci with the talented Limini, who gave the owner his third female winner of the week in 2016. She was ridden like a very talented horse too, held up in rear by an extremely confident Ruby before stalking the leading horses turning for home and eventually forging clear to win in emphatic fashion. In terms of strength, it has to be said that it was a poor race, though it was a very taking performance.