Floressa Mares Novices Hurdle Cheltenham Festival 2020
The Mares Novices’ Hurdle, or to give the race it’s full title The National Hunt Breeders Supported By Tattersalls Mares Novices Hurdle was first run in 2016 and all four runnings have been won by a horse trained by Willie Mullins.
No surprise then to see the Willie Mullins horses dominate the front of the market at this early stage.
Willie Mullins runners in the Mares Novices Hurdle
Dolcita is the current favourite around 5/1 with Lamarckise and Royal Illusion then 2nd and joint 3rd in the betting. Clearly, the market respects the Mullins runners but at this stage which is the best of the stable and which will even turn up? Hard to gauge, unless you are close to the yard there is little form to go on and there is a certain amount of guesswork in the market prices.
If I tell you at the time I write, the three Willie Mullins horses at the head of the market have between them won just one hurdle race, Dolchita winning a maiden hurdle at Tramore in December then you can see how much this market could change come March 2020.
“First race” flickr photo by Carine06 https://flickr.com/photos/43555660@N00/13178010263 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
Firstly her form credentials, in particular, the time performance she put up when running 2nd on seasonal debut at Newbury to Silver Forever.
To give some significance to the performance, I put it ahead of that of last year Mares Novices Hurdle winner Eglantine Du Seuil. Granted last years Mares Hurdle may not have been the best running, but Floressa’s performances so far indicate she can compete at the grade 1 level.
Paul Nicholls Silver Forever beat Floressa at Newbury, so why not back her for Cheltenham when she’s available at around 14/1?
There is certainly a case to be made that she is overpriced at current odds. My thoughts are that the 2 miles of the Mares Hurdle will prove to be short of her optimum trip.
Since her Newbury defeat by Floressa, Silver Forever has won at Sandown over 2 miles 4 furlongs and connections indicated her big target for this season is the Jane Seymour novices hurdle at Sandown in February (over 2 miles 4 furlongs). She looks like a stayer in the making and the 2 miles of the Mares Hurdle at the Festival is likely to prove on the sharp side.
It’s worth adding that Floressa after their first Newbury clash put Silver Forever in her place when beating her 6 lengths in receipt of 3 lbs at the same track. The pace that day wasn’t as strong as on their previous meeting and it adds to my view that Silver Forever will be at her best over further than 2 miles as she appeared to lack the tactical speed to go with Floressa late on while staying on quite dourly.
Floressa Mares Novices Hurdle the nominated target
Nicky Henderson has stated that she will be aimed at the race and could go straight to the Cheltenham Festival without another run.
I’d expect some big price fluctuations in the horses around her at the head of the market as the Willie Mullins team run and form a pecking order. Not too bothered by that, I think Floressa will stay fairly strong, she has shown her strength already, seems unlikely to run again before the Festival and she could potentially contract in price as some of her rivals run and falter.
While it’s conceivable that one of the Mullins runners could go off a very short price on the day as their ability is revealed over the next 2 months. Floressa looks rock solid at 10/1 for the Mares Hurdle.