We’ve published our guide to the 2021 Mares’ Chase
This Grade Two is the penultimate race on day four of the Cheltenham Festival
Willie Mullins trains the top two in the market
Elimay is our best bet at 2/1
Paddy Power will sponsor the new Mares' Chase. (Getty)
The newest addition to the Cheltenham Festival schedule will take place on Gold Cup day, as many of the finest mares’ in the sport take part in the inaugural Mares’ Chase. This Grade Two is open only to five-year-old mares and above, and is run over an intermediate trip of two-and-a-half miles.
Willie Mullins has dominated the mares’ events at the Cheltenham Festival, so it’s no surprise to see two of his charges topping the market.
Ireland’s Champion Trainer has saddled nine of the 13 winners of the Mares’ Hurdle. He didn’t have a runner in the 2008 edition, and on the three other occasions Willie has been defeated, he accounted for the second and third horses past the post.
There have only been five runnings of the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, and Willie has won all of them. Logic suggests the winner of the very first Mares’ Chase is most likely to come from Willie Mullins’ yard.
Elimay jumped to the top of the Mares’ Chase betting, after following Ryanair Chase favourite, Allaho home in a Grade Two at Thurles. Mark Walsh’s mount then handed Shattered Love a five-length thrashing over two miles, when giving the runner-up five-pounds at the weights, and she’ll only improve for this step up in trip.
Colreevy is unbeaten over fences this season, and followed in Faugheen’s footsteps by collecting the Grade One for novice chasers held at Limerick on Boxing Day. Colreevy would certainly warrant her place in this field. However, I doubt Mullins would be that keen to throw a novice into open company at Cheltenham, and connections have their eyes on a Grade Two prize in Ireland the weekend before the Festival.
Salsaretta began the season as the favourite for the Mares’ Chase, but two shocking performances have seen her drift right out to 25/1. Robin De Carlow hasn’t been seen since beating Put The Kettle On in a beginners' chase at Tipperary in October 2019. La Sorelita herself hasn’t been seen since making a winning chase debut during the summer but, knowing Willie Mullins, all three are likely to join Elimay in the final field.
Henry De Bromhead is keen to run last year’s Arkle winner, Put The Kettle On in the Champion Chase, so it’s very unlikely she will run here. Having suffered a heavy fall in the Scilly Isles, Dame De Compagnie is to drop to hurdles for the Festival, with the Mares’ Hurdle her most likely objective.
There are doubts about Shattered Love’s participation, given the current situation with Gordon Elliott’s yard, and the ground is unlikely to come up heavy enough for her liking. Happy Diva finished second in the Paddy Power Plate off 149 last season and, given her mark has now dropped to 145, Kerry Lee may opt to go down the handicap route once again.
Annie Mc has run up to a high level on her last two starts, collecting a couple of Listed prizes in dominant fashion. One thing that does worry me with her is the track. Annie Mc didn’t jump well in the Marsh Novices’ Chase last season, where she was beaten over 40 lengths.
Agusta Gold twice placed behind Elimay in Graded novice chases last season, and beat Moyhenna and Cabaret Queen in a Grade Three on her only chase start this term. Margaret Mullins sent her ten-year-old over to Cheltenham to contest a handicap hurdle in April 2019, so a second outing seems highly likely.
Jessica Harrington could use this as Magic Of Light’sGrand National prep, and she’s far too classy to be ruled out. My Old Gold and Zambella are experienced chasers who’ve won this season, and both are likely to take up their entries.
If there were three paid places available, then 16/1 is a crazy price about Magic Of Light. Jessica Harrington might have both eyes fixed on Aintree and this trip may be shorter than ideal, but her ten-year-old is the highest-rated chaser in the field and has enough finishing pace to hit the frame.
As it is, there’s a chance we may only get six or seven runners, which puts the ball firmly in ELIMAY’S court. Mullins’ mare ran a cracker in with the boys at Thurles, and looked a class above Shattered Love and Yukon Lil when carrying a penalty to victory last time out.
Elimay has only been beaten by Allaho over fences, and I’m confident she will deal with the track on day four of the Cheltenham Festival. When Put The Kettle On and Dame De Compagnie come out, she’ll drop to 6/4. If Colreevy doesn’t run, then Elimay will be an odds-on shot. Take the 2/1 while you can!
Colreevy will now run at Cheltenham. She is, however, a novice in with more experienced chasers. All of her form has come on softer ground and she was a well-beaten fourth in last year's Mares' Novices' Hurdle. Her presence only makes Elimay a more appealing prospect.
Magic Of Light would appeal at an each-way price if a larger-than-expected field was confirmed. The one she'll have to beat though is Elimay, and it's hard to look beyond Willie Mullins' mare.
2021 Mares' Chase Tips: Elimay Straight Win @2/1 at bet365 - 30 Units
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