OLBG Mares’ Handicap Hurdle Tips & Betting Preview

The OLBG Mares Handicap Hurdle closes out the card on the final day of the International Meeting at Cheltenham. It is a new race that was added last year and won by the Anthony Honeyball-trained Lily Waugh. This is the third leg of seven mares’ races that make up the OLBG series which concludes with the Grade One Mares’ Hurdle at The Festival in March.

At the top of the market we have Midnight Tour for the in-form Alan King stable that was raised 11lb for a demolition job on soft ground at Hereford on her first run of the season. She looks to have improved over the summer and the move to the Alan King yard can only be seen as a positive. She has a very good chance of building on her reappearance and if she can be as effective on drying ground then she’s sure to go well under the champion jockey.

Briery Queen, however, has no such concerns about the going. She was highly touted in National Hunt flat races where she dined at the top table on a number of occasions. In her last visit to the track she had to wait on the stewards’ decision before she was awarded the race after interference jumping the last. The handicapper gave her a 7lb rise for that which was fair and she certainly has some movement off 130. She’s already visited the Prestbury track where she finished fourth of 14, beaten by around five lengths to a horse who is now running off a mark of 145. With natural progress over hurdles, she should be extremely competitive off her mark and her current price of 7/1 could be huge come race time.

Paul Nicholls could also have a strong hand in this with the returning-from-injury Sam Twiston-Davies taking the ride on Jessber’s Dream. On her first race of the season she looked in desperate need of the run, travelling well until two out then folding up like a cheap suit. If you’re able to forget that run, then looking back at last season’s form she looked like a horse going places, racking up a string of good runs which culminated in a Grade 2 win at Sandown. That run was on desperate ground and her only performance on anything decent came in a National Hunt flat race where she didn’t look comfortable at all.

Dalmatia is an interesting runner to say the least, coming all the way from the Emerald Isle for this race and we all know they don’t get sent over by Eddie Harty for fresh air. Harty said on Wednesday, “Dalmatia is in good form and the plan is to run on Saturday. It is a nice race and worth a few quid, so we feel it is worth coming over for. She is a few pounds higher in England and will be stepping up in distance, but if she can reproduce her Punchestown performance, she should be in the mix”. She probably has to improve a fair bit to get involved, but connections are bullish that she can challenge at the business end.

Debdebdeb is a horse worth noting in a handicap for the strong Skelton team. Similarly to few of these, she looked in desperate need of her first run, but with her love of the ground and featherweight she could go well.

Final mention goes to the Ian Williams trained Midtech Valentine who has the guidance of young conditional jockey Jordan Williams. He takes off a handy 7lb which gives his mount a great chance at the foot of the weights. She has improved with each run and connections will be hoping she will be in a prominent position when the cards are down.

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