Tuesday’s final Grade 1 of the day comes in the form of the Mares’ Hurdle, with a talented Willie Mullins’ runner heading the betting.
Last year’s Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle winner Concertista returns to Cheltenham after winning both of her starts this season.
After landing the Grade 2 Mares’ Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November, the seven-year-old followed that up with success in the Grade 3 event at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
With Honeysuckle heading to the Champion Hurdle, Concertista is the strongest contender in a field that lacks depth.
Mullins’ runner is arguably the banker of the week at the Festival, with punters debating if any of the contenders in this contest are good enough to beat her.
2019 winner Roksana will be hoping to be the first runner to regain her title in this contest, and she has been impressive in her three starts this season,
The talented nine-year-old has landed the bet365 Hurdle and Warfield Mares’ Hurdle in comfortable style and claimed a strong third behind Paisley Park and Thyme Hill in between those wins in the Long Walk Hurdle.
If she can continue her good form and Dan Skelton does not decide to go for the Stayers’ Hurdle, then she could well the main threat to Concertista.
Dame De Compagnie has been reverted back to hurdles, with her Cheltenham form over the small obstacles catching the eye.
Nicky Henderson’s mare has won three of her five starts over timber at Prestbury Park, including the Coral Cup at last year’s Festival.
However, she may struggle with Concertista’s raw pace and it could be a big ask of her to win here.
That could be the case for the remainder of the field, as the contest gives off the impression that it lacks depth.
Quevega Mares’ Hurdle winner Black Tears gathered interest after her win earlier in the week, while last season’s Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle winner Indefatigable holds an entry for Paul Webber.
There could well be some value in Henry De Bromhead’s Minella Melody, who has finished second on all three of her starts this season.
The seven-year has finished twice behind the market favourite this term, and it looks unlikely that she will overturn Concertista here either.
But the mare has not been disgraced in defeat and at 25/1, she could easily push for a place in this contest.
This is Concertista’s race to lose, and it would be a surprise if she fails to win on her Grade 1 debut.
- Concertista @ 5/4 (Betfair + Paddy Power)
- Minella Melody E/W @ 25/1 (William Hill)