This is a race in which the genius from Closutton, Willie Mullins targets his best mares in, with nine winners to his name in the race in the thirteen renewals.
QUEVEGA is a horse that springs to mind winning this race six times.
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However, the Simon Munir & Isaac Souede owned mare, CONCERTISTA looks to win this race for the first time after winning the Mares Novice last year impressively. She burst onto the scene when going off 66-1 for the race she won the year after, on her first start over hurdles.
She has continued her progression since stepping up to two miles and four furlongs and the test here looks to be up her street. She has beaten a significant number of mares who oppose her here, so she wouldn’t need to improve anymore to get the better of them.
The two exceptional mares are side stepping this race to run in the Champion Hurdle and this looks like a golden opportunity for CONCERTISTA to make herself a two-time Cheltenham festival winner even though she wouldn’t look out of place in the Champion Hurdle.
Though, the decision to run arguably the most inform mare in training ROKSANA here is certainly of interest for Dan Skelton. With the official confirmation that she is going here instead of the Stayers Hurdle she will certainly put it up a challenge to the favourite.
Having won impressively against the boys in the West Yorkshire Hurdle she then was targeted at the Grade One Long Walk. She ran with plenty of credit that day finishing third behind two excellent stayers in PAISLEY PARK & THYME HILL only beaten two lengths that day.
She has since blitzed up in a Mares Hurdle, Grade Two over three miles in which Harry Skelton laughed at his rivals as the mare cruised past Grand National runner up MAGIC OF LIGHT. She has shown significant improvement since stepping up to three miles so that could be a worry here stepping down four furlongs.
However, she won this race in 2019 albeit a lucky winner. I think she will serve it right up to the favourite and has a cracking chance.
BLACK TEARS is a horse I thought was overpriced a few months ago with my thoughts being she might turn up for this in comparison to others that didn’t look likely.
She has good Cheltenham form with a second in last years Coral Cup. We saw her win a Mares Hurdle at Punchestown earlier on in the month which sets her up with a chance here.
Overall, CONCERTISTA is certainly a mare on the up however I’m going to take her on with the experienced ROKSANA.
She has seemed to be in better heart than ever and at double the favourites price I think she will go very close as she looks to get her name on the trophy for a second time.