The David Nicholson Mares Hurdle is a Grade 2 event run over two and a half miles, and has been run now for three years.
Over the last two years the race has been won by Quevega and trainer Willie Mullins will be sending his superstar racemare to try and complete a historic treble in the race, named after the legendary David Nicholson (God rest his soul) who rode 5 winners and trained 17 more in a fantastic career. Nicholson trained some of the fantastic festival favourites which include Barton Bank, Charter Party and the formidable Viking Flagship.
Robin Des Champs (FR) — Vega IV (FR) (Cap Martin (FR ))
Notes: Quevega returns again this year to defend her crown, and looks to have an excellent chance of doing just that. She readily accounted for her field in both 2009 and 2010, and only Carole’s Legacy could get within throwing distance of her the last day. The way she travels through her races and that exceptional turn of foot makes her a potent force against her own sex and it is surprising they haven’t tried pitching her in against the males in the Champion Hurdle before now, she certainly has the class.
Midnight Legend (11.9f) — Glassy Appeal (USA) (Glassy Dip (USA))
Notes: This year however, Quevega will have to be every inch as good as before as new challenger on the block Sparky May created a favourable impression at Ascot last time out, and she destroyed a Grade 2 Mares field, including Carole’s Legacy. On a line through Carole’s Legacy (assuming she ran to form last time) would put Sparky May ahead of Quevega in this race, given Carole’s Legacy is now rated 13lb higher than when second in this race last year beaten almost identical distances by Quevega and Sparky May (albeit the latter was in receipt of 5lbs). Sparky May has been improving considerably with each run and it wouldn’t be the biggest shock to see her get her small yard into the big time at The Festival – and ranks a live contender.
Our Girl Salley
Carroll House (7.7f) — Lenmore Lisa (IRE) (Phardante (FR )(12.7f))
Notes: Unbeaten in three starts to date over hurdles, this Irish contender has a live chance of making the frame at The Festival if repeating her run two starts ago when readily accounting for her rivals including previous Grade 3 hurdle winner Macville who had been on an upward curve prior to that effort. Unraced so far on anything quicker than soft it remains to be seen just how effective she’d be should it come up good or quicker and with that taken into account looks a risky proposition against the likes of Quevega and Sparky May and a place looks the best possible chance for this one.
Supreme Leader (12.4f) — Portryan Native (IRE) (Be My Native (USA) (11.7f))
Notes: Would be an interesting one on hurdles form here, with the yard already saddling Quevega in the race, but the market on Betfair suggests this mare is heading elsewhere so it would be wise to look somewhere else on this occasion.
Sir Harry Lewis (USA) (14.8f) — Carole´s Crusader (Faustus (USA) (9.3f))
Notes: Should be thereabouts on all known form but has been held by both Quevega and Sparky May recently and it would take a miracle for her to reverse form with the former especially, and one would expect the latter to continue her upward curve and thus increasing her advantage over Carole’s Legacy and place money at very best for this one it would seem.
Christophene (USA) (8.0f) — I´lltelimar (IRE) (Montelimar (USA) (11.5f))
Notes: Improved this year into a decent hurdler, and looks to be heading to this race according to the Betfair market. Is held on her run with Our Girl Salley last time but could sneak into the frame at a double figure price, but isn’t one for us to get involved with.
[frame_right src=”http://www.cheltenhamtips.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/CheltenhamDec2010-631-150×150.jpg” href=”#”]L’Accordioniste[/frame_right]
Tikkanen (USA) — Crystal Chord (IRE) (Accordion (11.9f))
Notes: Won a handicap at the track two starts ago uber impressively going right away when seemingly beaten out of sight turning for home. Excuses can be made for her last run behind Sparky May after a terrible round of jumping going right handed for the first time more than counted for her chances. The Twiston-Davies yard generally begin to return to form around the time of The Festival and back on better ground, and back down four furlongs in trip to this seemingly ideal trip for this daughter of Tikkanen looks a live player in this race and cannot be discounted – live outsider.
Verdict: In theory this should be Quevega’s race to lose and many punter will have her in those Antepost multiples given how easily she has won the race the last two years, but at this stage she represents very little in the way of value. Sparky May has a live chance at a bigger price but comes from an unfashionable stable and Ascot is a very different track to Cheltenham, which is why we are going with L’Accordioniste each-way at a massive 20/1. The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained mare was four from four before disappointing when going right-handed last time (for the first time) and if you cancel out that effort the way in which she finished her race at Cheltenham over 17F last time lives long in the memory, considering how far she was behind coming down the hill. This extra distance on offer in this race, and likely decent ground on offer are further pluses for this daughter of Tikkanen and she is taken to upset her huge Antepost odds.