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2024 Mares' Novices' Hurdle Tips - Can Willie's mare conquer her rivals?

jon-vine
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Last updated: 07 Mar 2024
Jon Vine 07 Mar 2024
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  • Free guide to the 2024 Mares' Novices' Hurdle
  • This Grade Two takes place on day three of the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday 14th March
  • Jade De Grugy and Majestic Force feature in our verdict
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jade de grugy
Paul Townend riding Jade De Grugy clear the last to win The Savills Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown Racecourse. (Getty)

The penultimate race on Ladies' Day at Cheltenham is the Mares' Novices' Hurdle. Having started as a Willie Mullins benefit, British contenders have won the last two renewals and this year's renewal of this Grade Two is shaping up to be one of the races of the meeting.

Here's our free guide to the 2024 Mares' Novices Hurdle. You can get our best betting tips in the verdict section below.

2024 Mares' Novices Hurdle Tips


Gordon Elliott has been talking about Brighterdaysahead like she's an absolute certainty leading into Cheltenham. This daughter of Kapgrade comes from the same dam as Mighty Potter, Caldwell Potter and French Dynamite. Undoubtedly her future lies over the larger obstacles, but Brighterdaysahead has looked nimble enough over hurdles, winning the Grade Three at Down Royal in November before an easy Listed win last time out.

Jade De Grugy made a lasting impression on her Irish debut at Leopardstown, streaking clear of Butcher Hollow in the closing stages. Willie Mullins' five-year-old then sauntered to another easy victory in the Solerina Mares' Hurdle at Fairyhouse, a race Willie won with Laurina and Limini before their victories at Cheltenham.

Fergal O'Brien has managed to avoid a penalty with Dysart Enos, running his Aintree bumper winner in lesser contests than her Irish counterparts. Dysart Enos has been far too classy for her rivals on all three starts and gained some valuable course experience by beating the boys at Cheltenham's December meeting.

The only other runner who can be backed at shorter than 20/1 is Golden Ace. Second to Dysart Enos at Aintree last year, Jeremy Scott's mare has recorded two impressive wins over hurdles at Taunton this term and she looks to have plenty of class.

Fun Fun Fun looks likely to remain in Ireland, and Nicky Henderson confirmed in the Racing Post preview that Joyeuse won't run. Birdie Or Bust could represent Henry De Bromhead having fortunately beaten Fun Fun Fun in a Listed race last time out, but she's got 25 lengths to find on Brighterdaysahead from their meeting at Down Royal.

dysart enos
Paddy Brennan riding Dysart Enos (dark blue/stars) clear the last to win The British EBF 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham. (Getty)

We usually get a capacity field on day three of the Cheltenham Festival, and plenty of outsiders have caused upsets during this race's short history. Cuta Des As gained plenty of experience in bumpers and point-to-points, and ran out an easy winner on her belated hurdlers debut last month. Willie Mullins has also handed entries to Spindleberry, A Penny A Hundred and Irish Emery.

Springtime Promise could join stablemate Dysart Enos in this contest, following her Grade Two win at Sandown. Mollys Mango could have her first start for Harry Derham, having been snapped up by Barratt Racing during the Caldwell dispersal sale. Majestic Force and Theatre Native are possibles for Henry De Bromhead. Casa No Mento and Only By Night are also worth a mention.

Verdict

I'm finding it incredibly difficult to split the three mares at the head of the betting. Brighterdaysahead looks like a superstar in the making and this future chaser will be helped by the lack of obstacles in the closing stages on the New Course.

Unlike her Irish rivals, Dysart Enos won't have a penalty to carry. Fergal O'Brien has been training her with this Grade Two in mind all season and a Festival winner for Fergal would raise the roof off Prestbury Park. On ratings, Dysart Enos has some catching up to do, but we certainly don't know where he ceiling is just yet.

Out of the front three, I'm leaning towards Jade De Grugy. I was blown away by her maiden victory at Leopardstown over Christmas and Willie Mullins couldn't have asked for a better prep in the Solerina. Her proven staying ability will come in handy at Cheltenham. I'd rather back Jade De Grugy at 5/2, than the other two at their current prices.

I would back Golden Ace each-way, as I think she's got bundles of ability, but she looks a bit skinny at 12/1. Majestic Force bolted up in a point-to-point in December and thrashed a decent gelding of Willie Mullins in Dr Eggman on her hurdles debut at Punchestown. If she was to run here for Henry De Bromhead, I'd be very interested.

Best Bet1: Jade De Grugy 2024 Mares' Novices' Hurdle Best Bet @5/2 at bet365 - 15 Units
Best Bet2: Majestic Force E/W 2024 Mares' Novices' Hurdle Value Bet @33/1 at BoyleSports - 5 Units
Jade De Grugy
2024 Mares' Novices' Hurdle Best Bet
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14 Mar 2024

2024 Mares' Novices' Hurdle