Last year’s race
- Winner: Apple's Jade
- Jockey: B J Cooper
- Trainer: G Elliott
- Owner: Gigginstown House Stud
- Age: 5 Weight: 11st 5lb
- Starting Price: 7/2
- Season Form Figures: 2212
- Previous Best: 1st - Hatton's Grace Hurdle (Grade 1), Fairyhouse (Dec 2016)
Willie Mullins has the choice of at least three Rich Ricci-owned mares to represent him this season (Vroum Vroum Mag, Let’s Dance and Benie Des Dieux) as he goes in search of a ninth victory in the Mares Hurdle. Apple’s Jade put an end to his sequence last season but it was still two Mullins-trained mares who finished a close up second and third in arguably the best finish at last season’s festival.
In addition to Quevega’s six wins, five of which were first time out (which means we are struggling for worthwhile trends), the Irish have also registered three more winners, four runners-up and five thirds. In fact, they had the 1-2-3 for the last two seasons and they currently have the first three in the betting courtesy of Apple’s Jade, Let’s Dance and the former winner and runner-up, Vroum Vroum Mag.
Ignoring the previous season’s renewal (Quevega did win it six times!), the best guide has been the Warfield Mares Hurdle at Ascot over 3m in mid-January won convincingly by La Bague Au Roi, though more in terms of finding mares to place in this race.
Novices have fared okay as take out Quevega and they would have won three of the ten runnings which is good going given that they had no obvious contenders in 2013 and 2014 and there is now a mares’ novices’ hurdle at the meeting (the ‘Dawn Run’ has its third running this year) which takes away that small angle in that connections of the best novice mares are far more likely to head there instead.
The first nine winners were given hold-up rides though clearly this is massively skewed by Quevega’s dominance as that was the way she was ridden. Apple’s Jade led from the fifth flight last season and gutsily fended off her big rivals. That said, trying to make all on the hurdles track on both the New and Old Course over hurdles is a thankless task, but this is the easier course to attempt these tactics on.
At a glance summary
- Ran well in last year's race