Polly The Peach Of The Mares

Mares' Hurdle

Outright Betting

The gasps could be heard from Cheltenham all the way over to Ireland when Annie Power fell at the last in the 2015 Mares Hurdle, and she will be looking to put matters right when returning to the festival this time around.

Power To Put Matters Right?
Successful in both outings since that dreadful fall when 4l clear at the time, Willie Mullins has this admirable 8yo back in the winning groove, and she will no doubt be trained to the minute. The question is whether Annie Power will be bidding to land the Mares’ Hurdle at odds of 5/2, or the Champion Hurdle, now that Faugheen is out of that race.

At this stage, it appears Annie Power will go for the Champion Hurdle, which would open the door for Vroum Vroum Mag to bid for the Mares’ Hurdle crown. Punters have also latched onto this, hence why Vroum Vroum Mag is now the 5/4 jolly to land an event, which has fallen to the favourite in six of the last seven years.

Mag To Vroum Up Hill?
Although yet to win a Grade 1 hurdle, Vroum Vroum Mag showed her class in taking a Grade 2 at Ascot last time (2m7f, soft), which took her chase/hurdle record since joining Willie Mullins from France to 8-8, and it would take a good one to lower her colours at Cheltenham.

If there is one question mark, though, then it would have to be whether Vroum Vroum Mag takes to Cheltenham’s unique track? If she does, then there will be plenty looking to her as a possible “festival banker”, but if she struggles, then there could be plenty of value elsewhere, including stablemate, Gitane Du Berlais (16/1), a Grade 1 winner over fences, who is capable of running well.


Polly To Go One Better?
Others at each-way odds include Nicky Henderson’s 8yo, Polly Peachum (7/1), who is on a revenge mission having been touched off by just a head in this race 12 months ago.

A winner of two of her three races since, Polly Peachum has been given this as her target ever since that defeat, and she can be relied upon to go well once more.

Aurore D’Estruval also features among the each-way chances at 10/1, but she hasn’t shown much in two outings this term, having won two Listed races the season before, similar comments that apply to Bitofapuzzle (14/1), who has failed to complete in her last two chases. The return to hurdles may wake her up, though, and having won a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse last April (2m4f, soft), she could be interesting.

If there is one mare who arrives on the up following a career best, then it is Jessica Harrington’s Keppols Queen (16/1), who won a Grade 3 at Leopardstown over Christmas (2m4f, heavy). She likes to race prominently and could prove a danger if let loose up front.

Recommended Bets
Annie Power’s participation in this remains unclear, and while Vroum Vroum Mag is respected, the each-way choice is Polly Peachum, who was beaten only a head in this last season and has retained her form since. It will be a surprise if she isn’t involved in the finish once more.

*Prices correct at time of publication