Published 9th February
MIA’S STORM has the class to hit the frame in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle assuming one or two of the current market leaders are diverted elsewhere.
At the time of writing both Apple’s Jade and Laurina are being talked of as serious Champion Hurdle contenders, while last year’s winner Benie Des Dieux has not been sighted since winning at Punchestown in April.
Willie Mullins won’t have any qualms about sending the last-named straight to the Festival given Quevega gained four of her five wins in this race on the back of similar absences, but a top-priced 2-1 makes little ante-post appeal.
The each-way value may lie with Mia’s Storm now she’s back over hurdles after falling on two of her four chase starts last season.
Her career over fences began with plenty of promise - beating subsequent RSA Chase third/Ladbrokes Trophy second/Welsh National winner Elegant Escape at Chepstow and following up in a Mares’ Listed event at Market Rasen.
Now rated 148 in this sphere - a pound lower than her top chase mark - there could be more improvement to come from a mare who has won her last four hurdle starts in highly progressive style.
But jumping issues surfaced in the Kauto Star at Kempton - for which she started favourite - and it was a similar story at Ayr’s Scottish National meeting.
Alan King’s 9yo has made a smooth return to hurdles though, defying a market drift on her reappearance under top weight in a Uttoxeter handicap and justifying odds-on favouritism back in Listed company at Kempton.
Now rated 148 in this sphere - a pound lower than her top chase mark - there could be more improvement to come from a mare who has won her last four hurdle starts in highly progressive style (first handicap win came off 121 just over two years ago).
She goes very well fresh, so her absence since November isn’t a concern, and if she gets her favoured ground (no easier than good to soft) her high cruising speed should enable her to cope with the drop back to 2m4f, especially if it’s strongly run.