*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change
Paddy Power’s very own Ruby Walsh has cast his expert eye over the Mares’ Hurdle at this year’s Cheltenham Festival – where we’re offering non-runner money back (NRMB) on all 28 races. Quite simply, you don’t risk losing out if your picks pulls out.
Ruby won this race an incredible eight times during his glittering career in the saddle – including six years in a row on the legendary Quevega – so he knows a thing or two about the standard required.
Last year’s winner Honeysuckle is being aimed at the Champion Hurdle while 2018 champion Benie Des Dieux has been ruled out so Willie Mullins’ Concertista has emerged as the favourite in our NRMB book. Roksana also features prominently in the early betting having won the race in 2019.
Speaking on the latest episode of our special Countdown To Cheltenham podcast series, Ruby revealed why an each-way punt takes his fancy in the 2021 Mares’ Hurdle. You can listen to the full show BELOW.
CONCERTISTA has been impressive but when you look at what she has achieved, you wouldn’t fancy her in the Champion Hurdle. Good horses win the Champion Hurdle, not decent ones – and Concertista has not achieved enough to say she’s in that category. She beat Minella Melody on her last two starts but there’s no horse in any of her form that’s Champion Hurdle class.
- DON’T MISS OUR BRAND NEW SNAZZY RACECARDS FOR EVERY SINGLE RACE TODAY
- … THEN CHECK OUT ALL THE WINNERS BEFORE ANYONE ELSE WITH OUR FAST RESULTS
Concertista has a great chance in the Mares’ Hurdle, however, and is the most likely winner but she’s fairly tight at 11/10. I can see why people are latching on to Concertista because she’s Willie Mullins’ but she hasn’t beaten a Roksana or a Dame De Compagnie yet.
I had Dan Skelton on the radio a few weeks back and he hinted that without Benie Des Dieux, ROKSANA might drop back to the Mares’ Hurdle, and last year’s Coral Cup winner DAME DE COMPAGNIE is also a really solid mare.
Roksana has won this race in the past, she was a very good on her last start at Ascot and Dan wouldn’t rule her out dropping her back if the race cut up. It’s take on Thyme Hill and Parisley Park in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle or drop back and take on Concertista and Dame De Compagnie. If you look at it logically, I know what I’d be doing.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of runners ends up in double digits. Concertista, Roksana and Dame De Compagnie are ahead of the others – but if one was going to break into the top three it’s probably GREAT WHITE SHARK. She disappointed at Gowran Park on her last start but that would have been far too testing. Willie Mullins’ other runners like MY SISTER SARAH all have to improve.
VERDANA BLUE didn’t have a break all year. She was on the go all summer and then back into a winter campaign. She’s like everybody else, no holidays this year. We’re all a bit stale and she’s gone a bit that way.
MARES’ HURDLE BET SUMMARY – MONDAY, MARCH 16
Ruby Walsh – Great White Shark (EW)
*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.
Read More on Cheltenham 2021
- Cheltenham Festival dates, race times and top tips for 2021
- Cheltenham Festival: Are fans allowed at Prestbury Park?
- Cheltenham Festival: Paddy Power sponsoring 2021 Festival Plate Handicap Chase
- Cheltenham Festival: Willie Mullins’ top contenders rated and slated
- Cheltenham Festival: Champ among 5 market movers after weekend’s racing
- Cheltenham tips: Mares’ Hurdle antepost picks from Frank Hickey