Mares' Novices' Hurdle Ante-Post Odds: Back this 25/1 play for Gordon Elliott

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There's set to be a hugely intriguing renewal of the Mares' Novices' Hurdle on day three of the Cheltenham Festival on March 17, and our man Steve Chambers takes a look at the latest betting and picks out a big-priced each-way contender for the Grade 2 event....

Willie Mullins won the first five renewals of this event, but the Closutton handler's dominance in the event came to an abrupt end when Henry De Bromhead saddled Telmesomethinggirl to victory last season, but the Mullins team will unleash another strong set of contenders in the 2022 renewal, and it's going to be hard to down the legendary Irish trainer.

Spearheading the Mullins team will be the exciting duo of Allegorie De Vassy (7/2) and Brandy Love (4/1). The former stormed to the head of the ante-post betting when getting the better of Brandy Love when they clashed in the Grade 3 Solerina Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Fairyhouse at the end of January. A three-and-a-half length winner that day, Allegorie De Vassy comfortably pulled clear in the closing stages of that event to cement her place as the potential first string of the Mullins camp and she has to be given the utmost respect.

Prior to that Fairyhouse defeat, Brandy Love had recorded a hugely eye-catching victory at Naas in December to launch into the Cheltenham picture, but she was beaten by her classy stablemate Grangee (10/1) in a Grade 2 flat racing last season, and with that Mullins contender another potential runner at Cheltenham then Brandy Love could struggle. Grangee was a faller in that Fairyhouse event, but had previously ran well in Grade 1 company, when finishing fourth against the boys, so she's another notable Mullins runner.

The once-raced Dinoblue is prominent in the betting and adds more depth to the Mullins armoury, but she will take on some much more experienced rivals in this event, so could prove vulnerable, and warrants little value at the moment.

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Gordon Elliott could prove to be the biggest thorn in the side of the Mullins team here and the Cullentra House handler will unleash a flurry of exciting youngsters, and it's likely to be Party Central that is the number one contender for the Irish handler. Beaten by the Colm Murphy-trained Impervious (14/1) at Down Royal in a Grade 3 event earlier in the season, Party Central rocketed back into form with a Listed win at Punchestown and then a handicap success at Leopardstown two weeks ago. Beating stablemate Say Goodbye (25/1) that day, Party Central will need to come on again now back in Graded company, but she has shown to be on the upgrade and could prove to be a leading player here.

Elliott holds five of the 42 entries with a month to go until the race, but one of his mares that could run a huge race at an eye-bulging 25/1 is BURN THE EVIDENCE, who was a breathtaking winner on her hurdling debut at Fairyhouse in early February. A winner on the level at Ayr back in January, Elliott then switched her to the hurdling sphere, and jumping fluently she eased clear of her rivals to win that Fairyhouse contest by a gaping 21 lengths. Entitled to be a big price on what she has shown on the track and over hurdles, she shaped like she could be hugely progressive over the coming seasons, and at 25/1 she could be an excellent each-way play in a race full of imponderables.

Arguably, the mare with the best form heading into the contest is the Dan Skelton-trained Elle Est Belle (7/1), who was last seen narrowly winning the Listed Sidney Banks at Huntingdon, and she's been fighting it out in some decent races all season. Third in the Champion Bumper at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, she landed a Listed win at Newbury impressively before bumping into Supreme Novices' Hurdle hope Jonbon in the Kennel Gate at Ascot.

However, she bounced back to winning ways at Huntingdon, and now back into the mares division she must certainly enter the picture, and could be one that runs a huge race at Prestbury Park, but whether she has the class to get her head in front then that's the question.

Of the others, Statuaire (14/1) was a shock Grade 1 winner of the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle earlier in the season, and a repeat of that effort would see her win here, but she flopped when finishing well behind Sir Gerhard last time out, so is best watched. Harry Fry's Love Envoi (14/1) and Dan Skelton's Get A Tonic (20/1) are another British duo that have to come into calculations, but it could well be another Irish dominated affair on March 17.

Burn The Evidence to win the Mares' Novices' Hurdle
Odds correct as of 2022-02-17 10:10 Odds subject to change.
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