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2021 Mares' Hurdle Tips – Skelton’s mare can regain her crown

15 Mar 2021
Jon Vine 15 Mar 2021
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  • We’ve published our guide to the 2021 Mares' Hurdle
  • The Mares' Hurdle is the fourth Grade One on day one of the Cheltenham Festival
  • Concertista will go odds-on when Honeysuckle comes out
  • Roksana is our best bet 3/1 NRNB
Harry Skelton riding Roksana clear the last to win The Matchbook Betting Podcast Mares' Hurdle at Ascot. (Getty)

The fourth Grade One on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is the Mares' Hurdle. Willie Mullins dominated this race throughout its early existence, winning it six years in a row with outstanding mare Quevega.

Ireland's Champion Trainer has, however, only won one of the last four editions of the Mares' Hurdle. Honeysuckle took down Benie Des Dieux to hand Henry De Bromhead his first win 12 months ago.

Despite a few disappointments in recent years, it's no surprise to see a Willie Mullins-trained mare topping the current Mares' Hurdle betting.

2021 Mares' Hurdle Guide

2021 Mares' Hurdle Odds

Dame De Compagnie8/1
Verdana Blue14/1

*Odds taken from Betfair on 20/2/21*

2021 Mares' Hurdle Tips - The Top Two

With Honeysuckle now almost certainto enter the Champion Hurdle, and Benie Des Dieux ruled out of the meeting all together, there are two outstanding candidates to win the 2021 Mares' Hurdle.

The first of those is Concertista, who broke her maiden tag with a superb victory in the Mares' Novices' Hurdle 12 months ago.

Since then, Willie Mullins' mare has produced two imperious performances in Graded company. First, winning a Grade Two at Fairyhouse without fully extending herself, before powering to victory under a penalty in a Grade Three event at Leoparstown over Christmas.

Roksana was on-hand to capitalise after Benie Des Dieux fell at the final flight in this race two years ago, handing Dan Skelton his first Grade One win as a trainer. On her return to Cheltenham 12 months ago, Roksana ran quite well, losing out to Elfile in the battle for third place, as Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux outclassed their rivals.

This season, Dan Skelton's stable star has looked better than ever, winning a pair of Grade Twos in dominant fashion. In-between, Roksana went down fighting behind Paisley Park and Thyme Hill in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot - a performance which puts her right in the Stayers' Hurdle picture.

Concertista powers to victory in the Mares' Novices' Hurdle in 2020. (Getty)

2021 Mares' Hurdle Tips - Other Targets

Dame De Compagnie has been running over fences since winning last year's Coral Cup, and I'd be surprised if Nicky Henderson reverted back to hurdles at Cheltenham.

Verdana Blue looks more likely to enter the County Hurdle over two miles, and Elimay is the current favourite for the Mares' Chase.

Great White Shark could run here, but a handicap target would be more realistic. Black Tears followed Dame De Compagnie home in the Coral Cup 12 months ago, and remains on a workable handicap mark.

2021 Mares' Hurdle Tips - The Best Of The Rest

Minella Melody has followed Concertista home twice this term. Henry De Bromhead's mare didn't handle Cheltenham all that well in last year's Mares' Novices' Hurdle, but performances this term give her an each-way squeak.

The Glancing Queen may still be a novice, but Alan King's seven-year-old would be much better suited by the trip in this Grade One, than the 17-furlong distance in the Mares' Novices' Hurdle. I wouldn't be surprised to see her run here instead, and she could challenge for a place.

No Willie Mullins horse can ever be overlooked at Cheltenham, especially in a mares' race, so we have to mention My Sister Sarah. Mullins' seven-year-old won a Listed race in good style at Limerick in October, and she could be one each-way punters latch onto.

roksana cheltenham
Harry Skelton celebrates as he rides Roksana to victory during the OLBG Mares' Hurdle in 2019. (Getty)

2021 Mares' Hurdle Tips - Final Verdict

Of the three outsiders mentioned above, The Glancing Queen at 33/1 (Non-Runner No Bet) looks good value for an each-way bet. However, the two mentioned in the opening section are head-and-shoulders above the competition, and they're the only runners who hold real appeal.

Concertista has been very good this season, and will likely go odds-on when the field inevitably cuts up. Yet, for me, ROKSANA has been even more impressive, and I think the Skelton's will have missed a trick if they don't return to the Mares' Hurdle.

Dan Skelton has said on a number of occasions that the Stayers' Hurdle is Roksana's primary target, as three miles is her best trip. Based on the performances she's produced so far this term, that angle cannot be disputed.

When asked about a return to the Mares' Hurdle, Skelton has said he would only consider it if, one, the ground was soft, and two, if the race cuts up.

Well, the second part of that ultimatum will certainly happen, as Honeysuckle, Benie Des Dieux and Elimay won't run in this race. Even if the ground is fairly decent on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, the fact that Roksana is the highest-rated horse in the field may persuade the Skelton's to go for a second Mares' Hurdle, before going on to the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree.

The best horses Concertista has beaten this term are Black Tears and Minella Melody, rated 148 and 142. Roksana thrashed four geldings rated higher than 149 in the West Yorkshire Hurdle, she brushed aside a 149-rated hurdler in Magic Of Light when cruising to victory at Ascot, and was only beaten two lengths behind the joint-favourites for the Stayers’ Hurdle in the Long Walk.

Roksana’s form this season is far superior to Concertista’s. She’s the best mare in Britain, in the form of her career, and has proven winning form at Grade One level. Please, Dan, please run Roksana in the Mares’ Hurdle!


Concertista might be an improving mare with plenty of class, but I feel Roksana is a better racehorse, and she would take all the beating if she pitched up in the Mares' Hurdle again. I just hope connections make the right decision.

2021 Mares' Hurdle Tips: Roksana (NRNB) Straight Win @3/1 at bet365 - 30 Units
Roksana (NRNB)
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