Cheltenham Festival Betting Tips · Tuesday, 16th Mar 2021 - 15:40
Sunday, 14th Mar 2021
Our experienced editor
Our experienced editor
Jamie Clark was Sports Editor of Coral bookmakers between 2014 and 2017 during their merger with Labrokes and a key period for the British betting industry. Working as a bookie’s runner on the point to point circuit in the Midlands and at Market Rasen Racecourse where his late godfather had a trackside pitch growing up, he has had ties to horse racing all of his life. A regular visitor to Cheltenham during the National Hunt season and York over the summer, he has been involved in Horsebetting.com since its inception. Jamie now brings you his take on major news stories from the racing world and those all-important betting tips.
Mullins mount brings big claims to Mares’ Hurdle
The last of four Grade 1s on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is the 2m 4f Mares’ Hurdle this Tuesday (15:40), and Concertista can continue her fine progress. Since a novice event was introduced at the meeting in 2016, no mare has doubled up and come back the following year, but that could change.
Trained by the master Irish handler Willie Mullins for powerful owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, Concertista is a seven-year-old by Nathaniel who was impressive here 12 months ago. The way that she ran on in the Grade 2 Dawn Run suggested stepping her up in trip would be the making of her.
Concertista never had to come out of second gear when cruising past Minella Melody in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse on reappearance. She has since followed-up carrying an even larger penalty at Leopardstown over Christmas. Mullins has laid her out for this ever since.
After making such rapid progress in the last year, Concertista is all the rage to enhance her handler’s fabulous record in the Mares’ Hurdle. Mullins has won this race nine times, so knows exactly what you need for it. Oddsof 6/5 with Betfair reflect that, but Concertista could still be getting better and makes most appeal.
Previous Mares’ Hurdle heroine Roksana has been back to her best this season, so rates the main danger for trainer-jockey brothers Dan and Harry Skelton. Now a nine-year-old, she profited from Benie Des Dieux’s infamous final flight fall in this race two years ago.
Roksana struggled last season to live up to that going winless in four starts, but bounced back to form on her reappearance in the autumn. That came in the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle back up in trip to 3m at Wetherby. The runner-up, Next Destination, has since won consecutive novice chases in the same grade.
As Roksana was far from disgraced when a two-length third to Paisley Park in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot and then an effortless winner of the Warfield for mares over the same course and distance, she has plenty going for her. Further progress is unlikely, however, and her best performances have come over further than the Mares’ Hurdle trip.
For all her likeable attitude, Roksana looks vulnerable to a rival open to improvement like Concertista. She still looks the most likely to chase home the favourite in the Mares’ Hurdle at 100/30 with BetVictor, however, as this year’s race lacks the depth of recent renewals.
Dame De Compagnie and Black Tears each-way contenders
Last year’s Coral Cup winner Dame De Compagnie runs here instead of trying fences again. She is of obvious interest on the pick of her form as a value alternative to the top two in the betting. Trained by Nicky Henderson for leading Irish owner JP McManus, he ready success over Black Tears on Ladies Day 12 months ago still reads well.
Dame De Compagnie comes into the Mares’ Hurdle on the back of a fall in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown. Provided that tumble hasn’t left its mark on her, she could well have a say in the finish at 7/1 with William Hill here.
Black Tears ran well in defeat behind last season and took the Grade 3 Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown. You can question what Denise Foster’s charge beat that day, but it adds substance to previous form behind Concertista.
As Black Tears usually puts her best foot forward towards the end of winter and when spring is in the air, she could hit the frame again at 14/1 with bet365 for this. This Mares’ Hurdle isn’t anything like as strong as previous years. Black Tears could well reverse placings with Minella Melody and challenge for the frame.