2014 Mares’ Hurdle Preview, Tips

Quevega - on a Mares' Hurdle six-timer

Quevega - on a Mares' Hurdle six-timer

2014 Mares' Hurdle Preview, Tips

The Mares' Hurdle is now in its sixth year and, since Whiteoak won the inaugural running, there has only been one further name etched on the pot: Quevega. That fragile but immensely talented lass has bagged the last five renewals and, as such, has made trends analysis somewhat pointless, for the win part at least.

Quevega bids for an almost imponderable six-timer in the 2014 Mares' Hurdle and, if age has yet to catch up with her, she'll be very hard to beat once more. So, from a trends perspective, I thought I'd look at the profiles of the placed horses - as well as Whiteoak and Quevega in winning year one - to get a flavour for what's required to go close in the Mares' Hurdle.

[Clearly, it's far from a scientific basis from which to strike a wager, but it should be indicative at least.]

Specifically, then, we've got the first three from 2008 and 2009 (Quevega's first win - we'll include her once only); and the placed horses from 2010 onwards, for a total of fourteen in the sample.

The majority of win and placed horses were aged six and seven, with nine of the fourteen in the sample being in that group. Two five year olds have won it, Whiteoak and Quevega first time, but they've failed to add a placed effort to that.

On official ratings, of the thirteen in the sample with a rating, just six were rated 140+, with five of those rated 150+. The remaining seven were 139 or less, and they may offer some value as they include some big-priced beasts.

Only three of the fourteen had failed to win or place in Graded company previously, and two of those had Listed form. Ten of the fourteen had run over hurdles nine or fewer times.

Stamina is a key requirement here too, with twelve of the eighteen win/placed horses (including Quevega all starts) having won at further than the two and a half mile trip. Backing  two-milers in this may not be a smart move. And that's interesting, because two of the next three in the betting - Cockney Sparrow and Down Ace - have yet to race beyond an extended two miles. Indeed, all of Cockney Sparrow's hurdle form is on flat tracks and Cheltenham's undulations will be a further - literally - challenge. She looks a place lay to me.

Down Ace does at least have a three mile point win in the bag, and looked to need every yard of it when just nailing Blue Buttons in a decent Listed novices' hurdle at Taunton last time. She fluffed the last two flights there, though, and will need to be better. If she is, she has place prospects. Too much of an 'if' for me.

Vying for second favouritism, and a much more robust option than the Sparrow in my opinion, is the French raider, Sirene d'Ainay. She almost nicked it from the front last year, as Quevega got caught in traffic after four out. It was a most impressive effort from the champ to get up that day, and Sirene d'Ainay may have been flattered by her proximity. Nevertheless, she was two lengths and more too good for the rest, and comes over in equally good heart this term. Hers is an obvious podium prospect.

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The trip will hold no fears for Glen's Melody either and, if she lines up, this Grade 1 winner could give her Mullins stablemate something to ponder. She does seem to need soft ground to give her best but, with the rain still falling, that's a possibility on the first day of the meeting.

I'm against any mare - except Quevega - coming into this off a break of longer than two months. A couple have made the frame, but absences longer than three months have proved insurmountable for all bar the mighty Mullins mare. So it is that Cailin Annamh gets the bullet, and she also has to have fast ground to show her best.

There'd be no such ground, fitness or stamina worries about Highland Retreat, and Harry Fry's seven-year-old mare has been a star player for Team Seaborough this term, notching a hat-trick sealed with a Grade 2 win over three miles on heavy ground. Prior to that she'd won a Listed race over a similar trip on good ground and, though she may get outpaced mid-race, she'll stay on far better than most. 20/1 is tempting, though that is without the non-runner money back concession.

Swing Bowler ran a better race in the Betfair Hurdle last year than she did this term before clunking in the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham and, while that might have been a blip - she was off for almost the whole year afterwards, implying injury - it's hard to recommend her.

And then, of course, there's the ten-year-old five-time winner, Quevega. As well as a nap hand here, she's also registered Grade 1 successes at the last four Punchestown Festivals and, if she turns up within seven pounds of her best, she'll win. She's won this race by 14 lengths; 4 1/2 lengths; 10 lengths; 4 lengths; and a hampered-in-running one and a half lengths. She's ten now, and that won't make life any easier, but she has yet to show any sign of regression, and just might be value at 8/11.

I don't have enough elevens to win a meaningful amount of eights, and for that reason wasn't going to play this race at all. But then I saw Betfred's refund offer (see below), and now I will be backing either Sirene d'Ainay (8/1) or Highland Retreat (16/1) win only, with Quevega on my side.

I may also place an exacta sort of bet, with Sirene d'Ainay and Highland Retreat (and perhaps Glens Melody) to grab silver. I may further play the trifecta, throwing a number of big priced 'oily rags' underneath.

Unless you have deep pockets and a strong nerve, this was a race to savour, as it may be the sixth coronation procession of the Queen of Cheltenham, HRH Quevega. But with the Betfred money back offer, we can both savour it and cheer for something else. Nice work, baldy!

Betfred - Money Back if Quevega Wins

Betfred are refunding all bets (as a free bet) up to £25 on the Mares' Hurdle if Quevega wins. Offer applies to win stakes and the win part of each way bets, and it's a bloody good one! Applies to new and existing customers. Click the link below to register if you don't already have a Betfred account.

Betfred Horse Racing





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12 replies
  1. mark says:

    betfred offering upto £25 money back if quevega wins, worth having a punt on something else, so the bookies must know something?

  2. eldingo66 says:

    What they KNOW is that they’ll make money no matter what happens. People talk about “fleecing the bookies” and such, but that’s uninformed. The ‘bookmakers’ will be laying off on the exchanges just like everybody else – they are Super Arbers, which is why they take such a hard stand against amateurs doing it to them – because if you are arbing them, it means they won’t be able to do the same on the exchanges.

    Don’t get me wrong – this is still a very good deal and one that everyone should take advantage of. But realise that the ‘refund’ is as a FREEBET, not cash. So to liquidate it you’ll need to do another bet and arb that in the usual manner. So you’ll get maybe 70-80% back if you do it right, less whatever the qualifying arb cost you on the horse you backed to win on Fred and layed on Betfair. You’ll be hoping to lose on Betfred though, and so they’ll get to keep most of the money you bet anyway. LEAVE NOTHING ON THE TABLE.

    The bookies always win in the end, and if they lose short-term, then they take the ball and go home, closing your account.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi eldingo,

      You are part right, in my opinion. What you fail to account for is that actually some people can – and do – beat the bookies, and that is perfectly possible to win with this bet, either at the first OR second attempt. It’s not about ‘absolute wins’ or arbing. It’s about putting the value in the punter’s corner. Two bets for the price of one does that rather well, I’d say. 😉


      • eldingo66 says:

        you are right, of course…and my bank is proof of that, but when the red haze descends, there is no stopping my rant 🙂

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Annie Power has been confirmed by her trainer – who also trains Quevega – to run in the World Hurdle. She remains entered in the Mares’ race but would only run if something happened with Quevega.

  3. eldingo66 says:

    I have a question of relevance here, but that also has wider use, do you think it is worthwhile taking the early price at the bookies seeing as most of them are no-runner-no-bet/freebet? I’ve not paid attention in the past, but are ALL these prices likely to come down once the final fields are reduced?

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      A lot of prices will actually be longer on the day. The best advice is that where a bookie offers both NRNB and BOG, and they’re top/joint top price, bet with them. bet365 are one bookie for this, and SkyBet are the other. Definitely use them when they’re best price, as you can’t lost against the market.


  4. graziano says:

    Hi Matt, having trouble logging on to the tipping league. I can get in to my history, but anything else is just not working, are you aware of this problem. Many thanks, Gary.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Gary

      There’s a problem affecting all users currently. The tipping league won’t be back before Monday at the earliest, due to developer being on holiday. Very frustrating, but there’s nothing I can do.


      • Gary says:

        Many thanks Matt, hopefully it will be up and running by Cheltenham as most of us have one or two bankers to post up. Best, Gary

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