The OLBG Mares Hurdle 2017 sees trainer Willie Mullins going for an incredible ninth straight win in the race, having won it every year since Quevega started the streak in 2009.
The Irish handler saddles the front two in the market in the shape of Limini who is preferred by Ruby Walsh, and Vroum Vroum Mag who gets the assistance of Paul Townend.
Both mares are in the top 1% of mares in the country, with Annie Power the only mare who springs to mind that is better so it looks very likely Mullins will add another victory in this race to continue his remarkable streak.
OLBG Mares Hurdle 2017
Peintre Celebre x Her Grace (Spectrum)
Notes: The new kid on the block and the chosen mount of Ruby Walsh and for that reason you have to sit up and take note. She made a most pleasing comeback when beating Apples Jade by 2 lengths at Punchestown in a very good time, which raised the possibility of her being supplemented for the Champion Hurdle which didn’t materialise. She instead heads for this race where you’d expect she’d be very hard to beat if repeating that recent comeback win.
Vroum Vroum Mag
Voix Du Nord x Naiade Mag (Kadalko)
Notes: Wasn’t at her best when scrambling home at Doncaster in January but was reported to have bled that day, she’s been given a break to recover from that and is upped to a more suitable trip. She won this race last year and you have to admire her durability and flexibility having won Grade 1’s over 2 miles, 2-and-a-half miles, and 3 miles, just staggering. Ruby Walsh has jumped ship in favour of Limini but you couldn’t rule out this mare at all.
Saddler Maker x Apple’s For Ever (Nikos)
Notes: Has been very consistent this year for Gordon Elliott, finishing runner-up in a Grade 1 and winning the Hattons Grace (Grade 1) when narrowly holding off Vroum Vroum Mag in a thrilling finish. She is very much to the fore on ability in this race and will most likely make the Mullins pair pull out their very best to beat her.
Kayf Tara x Astar Love (Astarabad)
Notes: A winner of 4 from her 5 hurdles races for trainer Paul Nicholls, she has returned this season better than ever with a couple of smart wins to add to her cv. The trip will pose no threats but the fact she’s been kept right-handed so far does concern me, and although she hasn’t really shown any reason why she wouldn’t be as good going left-handed, that is a question and potential risk that puts me off her claims.
Jeremy x African Scene (Scenic)
Notes: Hasn’t been seen to best effect this term with two efforts over the minimum distance in Grade 1’s. She is unbeaten with two double-digit victories over this trip at the back end of last season as both Fairyhouse and Punchestown, she skipped the Cheltenham Festival last year and back up in trip here can certainly outrun her current odds against her own sex.
Midnight Jazz made Vroum Vroum Mag pull out all the stops when a narrow runner-up at Doncaster, but the Mullins runner was found to have bled from the nose, so clearly has run below form. Previous form leaves her with a fair amount of improvement to find.
Colin’s Sister has been a revelation for connections over hurdles winning 4 from 4 this season. Her last win at Sandown was very good and is one of the main hopes for the UK in this race and has to be respected.
Briery Queen will get champion jockey Richard Johnson in the saddle for this race and will need every inch of his class to trouble the main contenders in this, is sure to run her race and a strongly-run affair will suit but up against it.
Ron’s Dream has improved this season for the Bowen team but finished 9th in this race last year and I can’t see the improvement getting her into the frame here, and will be another that’ll run her race but won’t be classy enough.
A race which for me revolves around the top three in the market, two of which are trained by Willie Mullins who has such a great record in this race.
Apples Jade has proven as good as ever this season since the switch to Gordon Elliott, and is probably a bit better than her bare form of the last run after being softened up on the sharp-end. That said I think she’ll not quite be good enough this time round, with the quicker ground possibly slightly against her.
Vroum Vroum Mag is an incredible mare, and one of few horses to win Grade 1’s over three different trips, and has combined hurdling and chasing with equal success. She will go down as one of the all-time great racemares in the sport, however I think the fact Ruby Walsh has opted to side with LIMINI tells you all you need to know about how strongly they rate her.
Has always been held in high-regard at Closutton she has returned better than ever this season to register a comprehensive success over Apples Jade. That will have put her spot on for this test on Tuesday, and one I expect her to be too good for her rivals in.
Jer’s Girl and Lifeboat Mona will run their usual solid races, and if anything were to happen to the top three in the race they could sneak into third with the right tactics employed.