Mares Hurdle Tips for the David Nicholson trophy

Lewis Jones takes a look ath early ante post betting in the OLBG Mares Hurdle for the David Nicholson Trophy at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

An unprecedented sixth straight Festival race awaits the frighteningly talented Quevega at the Cheltenham Festival. Can she create sporting history?

What happened in 2013?

The sensational Quevega created history by equalling a Cheltenham Festival record of a fifth consecutive victory in the same Festival race. However, this success was by no means as smooth as her previous romps in front of her huge following at Prestbury Park.

Jockey Ruby Walsh allowed her to get too far back before being slightly hampered on the bend at the top of the hill, which left her with a mountain to climb and she drifted out to 4/1 in running.

But one by one she picked off the horses ahead of her and timed her charge to perfection to nail long time leading French raider Sirene D’Ainay with 100 yards to run.

It was some effort to recoup the amount of ground she did in the final three furlongs of the race and punters who had installed her as the banker of the meeting celebrated an 8/11 return. She subsequently went to Punchestown and beat the boys.

2014 Major Players

Nothing looks remotely capable of challenging Quevega once again if she turns up to Cheltenham in usual nick, which trainer Willie Mullins successfully does so every year, highlighting his talents as a racehorse trainer.

She ran below par last season and still had far too much for her rivals. Her age is a negative as a ten-year-old but she is still very lightly raced. Annie Power is a mare with supreme talent and could challenge Quevega but as she is trained by Mullins too, it’s impossible even to consider both running in this event.

Betting advice: strong race trends

Key trends? Well, simply backing Quevega would do in terms of finding solid profit but we’re guessing you already knew that. Such is her dominance value seekers have found it difficult to take this race seriously. Every year, they try to find a betting alternative to the wonder mare and every year they end up with burnt fingers.

However, if you are looking for betting alternatives to Quevega again this year, latching on to novices in this race could be angle to exploit.

Take out the superstar and three novices would have landed this race in six seasons from a very low representation.

This race lacks strength in depth and also provides decent price money as it holds Grade Two status, therefore connections are likely to enter their classy mares in this event rather than take a stab at the more prestigious yet more competitive novice hurdles like the Supreme Novices Hurdle or Neptune Investments Hurdle.

In Cheltenham Mares Hurdles where Quevega didn’t run, novices have a 100% strike rate, albeit from just one year when the Donald McCain-trained Whiteoak won at 20/1.

Siding with front-runners in this race is a big no-no when planning a gamble. Quevega’s dominance probably overshadows the fact she was held up on all of her Mares Hurdle wins but time and time again in races run on the hurdle course at the Festival, horses that go out to make the running struggle to fend off the challengers.

Key trials

There are seven races specifically outlined for top-class mares on the road to Cheltenham and as Quevega doesn’t run except at Prestbury Park’s extravaganza, every race is far more competitive than the showpiece event.

Races at Weatherby (November), Kempton (November), Sandown (December) and Ascot (January) all bring together the likely challengers for Cheltenham and are well worth watching with the Mares Hurdle in mind.

Ante-post tip

The 5/4 available with Paddy Power revolves around whether Quevega makes it to the race as she is a fragile racehorse. If she does, she’ll be 1/2 on the day so value hunters should snap up the current odds.