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2013 Mares' Hurdle race guide & tips - Swing to bowl over rivals

The Mares' Hurdle is a relatively new festival race and as the title suggests is for mares only, being run over a trip of 2m4f on the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival (due off 4.40pm).

What are the key trends?
Just five renewals to day and Irish mare Quevega has won four of them, and the big question is whether she can become the first horse since Golden Miller to win the same festival race five times. The inaugural running in 2008 was won by Whiteoak, who scored at 20/1, with Quevega obliging as favourite each time (2/1, 6/4, 5/6 and 4/7 last season).

Who's favourite?
As usual, Willie Mullins' Quevega turns up here for her first run of the season and, as in previous years, she'll be the first-day “banker” for Ireland. She's proved in a different league to her rivals on four occasions now and is the cast-iron genuine Grade 1 performer in the field, which can't be said for the majority of her rivals. A lack of a previous run has proved no handicap in the past and is even starting to look like a positive for a mare who clearly excels when fresh. A worthy odds-on favourite for sure.

Which horses are her main challengers?
Une Artiste, who won last season's Fred Winter Hurdle, has continued her progress this season, winning a couple of Listed races; she will carry a 5lb penalty as a result. Last year's runner-up Kentford Grey Lady has, on the other hand, been largely disappointing this term, failing to convert what looked a good winning opportunity at Haydock last time. That was a Grade 2 contest against the boys, admittedly, but she was getting all the allowances. The stable has been very quiet of late.

Any outsiders worth considering?
Golden Sunbird hit the frame at a whopping 66/1 12 months ago, so it might be worth finding one to back against the favourite each-way. The Mullins second-string Tarla was very impressive when winning twice earlier this season, albeit against moderate rivals, but has hit the deck in novice chases on her last two starts, so she might well appreciate the return to smaller obstacles.Swing Bowler has been a revelation this season, winning four on the bounce, and was a highly creditable third in the ultra-competitive Betfair Hurdle last time. She could still be improving.

What's the verdict?
Quevega has likely only got to turn up to score again but she's not a bet for me at 8/15 (don't bet at odds-on) and I was tempted to give the race a miss for betting purposes. However, the news that SWING BOWLER is likely to take her chance instead of running in one of the handicaps has sparked my interest, and this progressive sort could easily hit the frame to reward each-way support. I like the fact she gets 5lb, having not won a Graded contest (good enough to win one), and the step to 2m4f could bring about further improvement.

Recommendation: Back Swing Bowler each for the 2013 Mares' Hurdle.


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2013 Mares' Hurdle race guide & tips - Swing to bowl over rivals

The Mares' Hurdle is a relatively new festival race and as the title suggests is for mares only, being run over a trip of 2m4f on the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival (due off 4.40pm).

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