Willie Mullins looks has a stranglehold on the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle but northern raider Lady Buttons looks a good each-way alternative.
LADY BUTTONS – 14-1 with ladbrokes (nrnb) 4.10pm Cheltenham Tuesday 12th March.
With the Champion Hurdle expected to feature both Apple’s Jade and Laurina the Closutton stable of Willie Mullins could end up with the first three horses in the betting for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, the fifth race on the opening day of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Last year’s winner Benie Des Dieux is expected to be joined by stablemates Limini and Stormy Ireland for the two and a half mile contest won on nine occasions by Mullins since the race’s inception in 2008, Donald McCain Jnr and Gordon Elliott winning the other two renewals.
BENIE DES DIEUX – 5-4 with William Hill.
One of the shortest priced favourites at the festival, not surprising as the mare is unbeaten in five starts since joining Mullins from France including this race 12 months ago. For those looking to pick holes in the form, last year’s renewal may not have been the strongest with favourite Apple’s Jade patently not at her best and the exposed outsider Midnight Tour only half a length back in second. The fact that the eight-year-old has yet to be seen on a racecourse this season is also a concern.
LIMINI – 7-1 With bet365 (nrnb) in Cheltenham betting odds.
Four from ten over hurdles but has been set some pretty stiff tests of late. Excellent third behind Apple’s Jade in this race two years ago and has some pretty smart Flat form in 2018. Drop in class sure to help and every chance of making the frame at the very least.
STORMY IRELAND – 8-1 with Ladbrokes (nrnb)
Outclassed by stablemate Laurina at Punchestown last time but very consistent mare. Should be thereabouts but likely to find one or two too good.
🏇🏻 The prolific Lady Buttons makes it 4 wins from 4 runs this season!— ODDSbible Racing (@ODDSbibleRacing) January 26, 2019
🏆 Wetherby – November 13
🏆 Newbury – December 1
🏆 Doncaster – December 29
🏆 Doncaster – January 26
🎥: @AtTheRaces pic.twitter.com/naFEWJbAT6
LADY BUTTONS – 14-1 with Ladbrokes (nrnb)
The best mare trained in the north is a credit to her trainer Philip Kirby. Winner of all four starts this season, two over fences and two over hurdles, and value for more than the half length she beat Indefatigable in a Grade 2 at Doncaster last time, idling when hitting the front after having the race won some way from home. Travels well in her races and could surprise some better-fancied rivals.