Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Betting Tips – Expert Predictions

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle – Expert Tips & Predictions

The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle is one of three races at the Cheltenham Festival exclusively for mares. With some extremely strong fields in recent years, the race has often challenged the Champion Hurdle for quality. Find out who our experts like in this year’s field, with all GG’s tips provided.

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Bookmaker Odds – Race 5, Tuesday 14th March 4:10

Maries Rock
Horse Profile - Jockey ColoursJ: Nico de Boinville
T: Nicky Henderson
Horse Profile - Jockey ColoursJ: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry De Bromhead
Horse Profile - Jockey ColoursJ: Aidan Coleman
T: Nicky Henderson
Brandy Love
Horse Profile - Jockey ColoursJ: Paul Townend
T: Willie Mullins
Love Envoi
Horse Profile - Jockey ColoursJ: Jonathan Burke
T: Harry Fry
Echoes In Rain
Horse Profile - Jockey ColoursJ: Patrick Mullins
T: Willie Mullins
Queens Brook
Horse Profile - Jockey ColoursJ: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott
Theatre Glory
Horse Profile - Jockey ColoursJ: Daryl Jacob
T: Nicky Henderson
Horse Profile - Jockey ColoursJ: Danny Mullins
T: Willie Mullins
Midnight Ginger
Horse Profile - Jockey ColoursJ: James Martin
T: Andrew J Martin

All About The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle in 2022

The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle was initially the sixth race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, but such was the hype the brilliant Quevega brought to the race that it was moved to an earlier slot to be screened on terrestrial TV.

This year looks set to be an extremely open renewal but one filled with class, with the best of the mares, Honeysuckle and Epatante, set to avoid the Champion Hurdle and go here instead.

Honeysuckle won this in 2019 and has since won back-to-back Champion Hurdles in 2021 and 2022. Henry De Bromhead’s star mare hasn’t quite been at the same level this season though, and this is seen as a much more realistic option for her to win before retiring.

Epatante is another high class mare, who has chased home Constitution Hill twice already this season, so you can forgive her for steering clear at the Festival! She won a Grade 2 in January when returned to Mares’ only company, and she has a lively chance of giving Nicky Henderson successive winners in the race.

The Seven Barrows trainer also has last year’s winner Marie’s Rock entered, although she may yet step up in trip in the Stayers’ Hurdle. She’s only had the one race so far this season in the Relkeel Hurdle, where she ran out a comfortable six length winner. If she does go here, she could become the first horse to win successive Mares’ Hurdles since the great Quevega back in 2014.

No trainer has dominated this race as much as Willie Mullins has, and he has two strong candidates to give him a tenth winner in Brandy Love and Echoes In Rain. The former was a non-runner at the Festival last year, but dotted up in the Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle at Fairyhouse the following month, whilst the latter could only finish fifth in last year’s renewal, but was last seen running out an easy winner of a Grade 3 at Naas in January.

Harry Fry’s star mare Love Envoi is another in with a chance, although he would need to reverse Leopardstown form with Brandy Love. She was beaten eight lengths that day, but has won both her races so far this season and will arrive here in top form.

Epatante could give trainer Nicky Henderson back-to-back winners in the race.

Introduced in 2008, the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle was upgraded to a Grade 1 from Grade 2 in 2015, owing to the success of the exceptional Quevega.

What Quevega did however was a trends-busting feat. She is both the youngest and oldest winner, but looking purely at the eight runnings she did not win, it is the seven-year-olds who have been comfortably the most successful age group, taking this on five of those other occasions, including the last two renewals. In fact, 7YO’s have won four of the most recent five runnings. 

It’s another race that has been dominated by the Irish, with Irish-trained horses winning 12 of the 15 runnings. The only British trainers to have won the race are Donald McCain (Whiteoak – 2008), Dan Skelton (Roksana – 2019) and Nicky Henderson (Marie’s Rock – 2022).

After being a favourites’ domain for so long, none of the last six have been successful, though four of them have been in the top three. Last year’s winner Marie’s Rock was a surprise for many and certainly in the context of this race: only inaugural winner Whiteoak went off a bigger price than her 11/1.

2023 Mares’ Hurdle Prize Money

The 2022 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, offered a prize pot of just over £118,000, of which Marie’s Rock’s winning connections took home a little over £67,500.

The prize pot for the 2023 renewal is £120,000.

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle History

One of the newest races in the Cheltenham Festival schedule, the Mares’ Hurdle has steadily grown in popularity since first being run in 2008.

Many have quibbles with the idea that the race dilutes the quality of the Festival, with the best mares running here instead of elsewhere. However, the likes of Annie Power, Epatante and Honeysuckle have disproved that in recent years by winning the Champion Hurdle, with the first-named also running in the Stayers’ Hurdle before this contest.

Quevega’s stretch of six straight victories between 2009-2014 was a genuinely remarkable achievement. No horse has won as many races at the Cheltenham Festival as Willie Mullins’ history maker nor will likely ever do so, especially not in the same contest. 

However, arguably the most infamous incident in the race came in 2015. After messieurs Mullins and Walsh had landed the Supreme, Arkle and Champion HUrdle with short-priced favourites, Annie Power was next up to land a £50 million blow upon the bookmakers. She fell at the last.

Even that year, Willie Mullins still won the race with second string Glens Melody. His nine victories account for well over half of the total ever run and he could well make it 10 in 2023.

Quevega won an unprecedented SIX successive Mares’ Hurdles between 2009 – 2014.

Winners since 2008

2008WhiteoakJ:Jason Maguire
T:Donald McCain Jr
2009QuevegaJ:Ruby Walsh
T:Willie Mullins
2010QuevegaJ:Ruby Walsh
T:Willie Mullins
2011QuevegaJ:Ruby Walsh
T:Willie Mullins
2012QuevegaJ:Ruby Walsh
T:Willie Mullins
2013QuevegaJ:Ruby Walsh
T:Willie Mullins
2014QuevegaJ:Ruby Walsh
T:Willie Mullins
2015Glens MelodyJ:Paul Townend
T:Willie Mullins
2016Vroum Vroum Mag J:Ruby Walsh
T:Willie Mullins
2017Apple’s JadeJ:Bryan Cooper
Gordon Elliott
2018Benie Des DieuxJ:Ruby Walsh
T:Willie Mullins
2019RoksanaJ:Harry Skelton
Dan Skelton
2020HoneysuckleJ:Rachael Blackmore
T:Henry de Bromhead
2021Black TearsJ:Jack Kennedy
Denise Foster
2022Marie’s RockJ:Nico De Boinville
T:Nicky Henderson

 Cheltenham Festival Racing Schedule

1:30Supreme Novices’ HurdleRead Tip
2:10Sporting Life Arkle ChallengeRead Tip
2:50Ultima Handicap Steeple ChaseRead Tip
3:30Unibet Champion Hurdle ChallengeRead Tip
4:10Close Brothers Mares’ HurdleRead Tip
4:50Boodles Juvenile HandicapRead Tip
5:30National Hunt Challenge ChaseRead Tip