Cheltenham tips: Ruby Walsh’s slick pick for the Mares’ Hurdle

Ruby's backing a former Willie Mullins Cheltenham winner to fire again at the Festival.

Ruby Walsh

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We’re well on the road to the Cheltenham Festival here at Paddy Power as the second episode of our antepost tipping podcast series has dropped.

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The Mares’ Hurdle was one of two races our expert panel assessed this week, and Paddy’s resident jockey-turned-pundit Ruby Walsh believes one of Willie Mullins’ previous Cheltenham winners could strike again.

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RUBY WALSH:

“Two Irish runners in Stormy Ireland and Heaven Help Us are at the top of the betting and I guess it’s a slight concern that they could cut each other up early on in the race.

“Stormy Ireland has run in this in the past and wasn’t good enough but this is a weaker renewal of the race. I don’t see any horse of high calibre, there isn’t a Grade 1 performer. That’s why she’s as high as she is in the betting. She’s basically a Grade 2 mare.

“Willie also has Burning Victory, Gauloise and Finest Evermore. Gauloise was disappointing in Sandown and her form ties in with Skyace, which isn’t rock solid. Burning Victory would be the one that interests me. I thought she ran a cracker behind Klassical Dream and Flooring Porter at Leopardstown. The drop down in trip will suit her and her jumping has improved immensely. She’s won at Cheltenham before, beating Aspire Tower back in 2020.

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“She would be the one of Willie’s that would be the most obvious to back. However, on ratings, Concertista would probably be head and shoulders above the rest. She would probably be about 153.

“I think when Willie looks at this race he’ll think between Burning Victory, Stormy Ireland and if he can Gauloise back to her best then he has three good chances in an open race. I wouldn’t discount the possibility of him running Echoes In Rain as he tends to keep horses to their own gender. I wouldn’t be surprised if he loads this up, but I can’t see Concertista being one of them.

“The more I look at BURNING VICTORY, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of her over hurdles yet. She gave Buzz – a 155-rated hurdler – 2lbs in the Cesarewitch and there wasn’t much between them (a length and a half) at the line.

She’s the one mare that could run to the figure needed to win this race and she’s my pick.”

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