Need some help finding the winner of the 2023 edition of the Cheltenham Festival Mares’ Hurdle? Well, look no further because our team of experts at Bookmakers.com have done the hard work for you by pinpointing the most critical trends and pointers from the last 10 renewals in order to help you find the winner of this Grade 1 contest.
The last 10 winners:
Rated 140 or higher.
At least 4 starts over hurdles
At least 2 wins over hurdles
Had won over 2m4f before
At least two wins on a galloping track
Nine of the last 10 winners:
Were not bred in Britain (exception Black Tears)
Won at a left handed track (Vroum Vroum Mag)
Had run at least six times over hurdles (Vroum Vroum Mag ran four times)
Last ran in a hurdle race (Benie Des Dieux)
Eight of the last 10 winners:
Had won a Graded race before (exceptions Marie's Rock and Benie Des Dieux)
Trained in Ireland (Roksana and Marie's Rock)
Key Trials from the last 10 years
The Warwick Mares' Hurdle in February has thrown up two winners (Glens Melody and Marie's Rock) and four places in the last 10 years.
The Warfield Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot is another good quality mares’ race that has thrown up a winner in the last 10 years (Vroum Vroum Mag).
The Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown was used as a springboard for winners Apple's Jade and Black Tears, and last year's second Queens Brook.
The Grade 3 Mares’ Hurdle run at Leopardstown over Christmas - and the Cheltenham Mares' Hurdle - has been dominated by Willie Mullins in recent years. His charge Shewearsitwell fell in 2021, but made amends in 2022, beating 8/13 favourite Queens Brook.
The winner of the Mares' Novices' Hurdle at the Festival has yet to graduate to Mares' Hurdle winner, but Limini went on to finish third, and the 2021 winner Black Tears had finished fourth in the novice event.
Willie Mullins has dominated this race since its inception in 2008, training nine winners and also having 15 placed-runners.
Nicky Henderson (2022), Denise Foster (2021), Henry De Bromhead (2020), Dan Skelton (2019), Gordon Elliott (2017), and Donald McCain (2008) have trained the other five winners. Elliott has saddled four runners and one winner, with last year's heroine coming from his stable too, while temporarily trained by Foster.
Irish trainers have saddled 12 of the race's 15 winners
Given the record of Willie Mullins in this race, it goes without saying that his stable number one, Paul Townend, will have a great chance.
Harry Skelton is another jockey worth noting with a winner (Roksana in 2019) and two places from five rides in the race.
How did the trends do last year?
Marie's Rock ticked all the key trends, and had won a key trial, but it was a negative that she was trained outside Ireland by Nicky Henderson.
Second Queens Brook had not won left-handed and lacked a Graded win, while third Mrs Milner had won the 3m Pertemps Handicap Hurdle at the previous year's Cheltenham Festival, and seemed suited to longer trips, with no win over 2m4f.
It is very difficult to look beyond 11-time Grade 1 winner, Honeysuckle, winner of this race in 2020 and the Champion Hurdle in 2021 and 2022.
She does come into the race off the back of the first two defeats of her 18-race career, but it remains true she has never been beaten by a mare or in a race at Cheltenham.
Trends show that she has three key rivals headed by Marie's Rock, who has remained unbeaten in two runs since last year's win and looks one to watch again.
From the dominant Willie Mullins stable, the lightly-raced Brandy Love has a Quevega air about her, having beaten the Cheltenham Mares' Novices' Hurdle winner Love Envoi soundly at Fairyhouse last term, on what was only her third hurdle outing.
She'd previously won bumpers at Fairyhouse and Naas impressively and was third in the popular Punchestown trial in February on her first outing since April.
Love Envoi, previously mentioned, is the final trends pick, with Graded Cheltenham form and only one defeat - to Brandy Love.
Though not as strong as the main four, Grade 3 winners Shewearsitwell and Queens Brook also fit the trends and have place claims in this elite company.
Jessica Lamb is one of Bookmakers.com's racing expert. As a multi-media journalist also specialising is cycling and athletics, she has worked on news desks at the Racing Post and Irish Sun as well as providing content for professional sports teams, national sports governing bodies and Boylesports.
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