2021 Cheltenham Festival – Colreevy Can Land Inaugural Mares Chase
2021 Mares Chase Tips
The newest races at the meeting is the latest contest to come under Lewis Tomlinson’s microscopic gaze. The race is now the penultimate contest on Day 4 of the Cheltenham festival and will be tricky to solve.
2021 Mares Chase Overview
Out with the old, in with the new. The concept of having a season-end championship for chasing mares wasn’t a universally well-received when it’s addition to the Festival programme was announced in the summer of 2019- the same could also be said the more recent announcement that it would be the Novice Handicap making way for the new event, but the BHA are clearly dedicated to developing this area of the sport, and a Graded race at Cheltenham is about as big a carrot that can be dangled to trainers and owners of good mares in a bid keep more in training.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a mares’ race at the Cheltenham Festival, Willie Mullins still looks to have a stranglehold on the current market despite Benie Des Dieux being ruled out of the Festival with an injury
Key Contenders – Elimay
Elimay is now at the top of the pecking order after winning the Opera Hat in simple fashion at Naas earlier this month. Elimay’s only two starts as a novice saw her garner victories Grade 2 and Grade 3 victories, and she’s looked an improved performer again this term, noticeably strong in the market when giving Allaho a good race on her return to chasing. She jumps well, and is a straightforward, uncomplicated type who is on a clear upward curve. The case for her is easy to make and she should run her race.
However, I’m keenest on the other Mullins runner, Colreevy, who will concede a Grade 1 here penalty after she battled bravely to get the better of Pencilfulloflead in the Limerick’s Faugheen Novice Chase on Boxing Day. Reasonably useful in bumpers and over hurdles, Colreevy’s surpassed her previous form by some degree as a chaser and remains unbeaten after three starts, also having won a Listed mares event at Thurles on her most recent outing.
Her clinical jumping looked a huge asset that day; she was able to gain a length when seeing a stride but crucially also ensured she didn’t lose any ground when getting in a bit close. Given the strength in depth of the Mullins team, she’s not a certainty to even make the journey over to Cheltenham, with a Limerick Grade 2 later in the month also potentially in the pipeline for Colreevy, but I’d hope she’ll take her chance as I think she has enough ability to defy her penalty and make it four in a row.
Put The Kettle On
Last season’s Arkle heroine Put The Kettle On (6-1) has been a glorious mare over the past 18 months for Henry de Bromhead and her syndicate owners, taking a backstreet route to Festival glory via Kilbeggan, Downpatrick, Tipperary and Wexford.
After kicking off her season this time around with another Cheltenham victory in the Shloer Chase, the suspicion that she’d struggle to mix it in open company with the best of the boys was confirmed when given a fairly sound beating by Chacun Pour Soi at Christmas.
These waters are calmer, and her overall body of form is probably stronger than that of either Elimay or Colreevy, both of whom are half the price and haven’t proven their love for this track yet. She’ll have no issue back up in trip, and could provide the sneakiest of sneaky each-way bets of the meeting.
Best Of The British
Britain will be represented by Annie Mc, who has won twice in Listed company against her own sex this season, and potentially by last season’s Coral Cup winner Dame De Compagnie (9-1), who has beat Grade 1 winning hurdler Cornerstone Lad in a match at Ayr on chasing debut before being taken out by a faller in the Scilly Isles time. Whether Nicky Henderson opts to run her here, given her significant inexperience, is a sure question mark, and it may be a case of too much too soon for Dame De Compagnie, for all she remains a fantastic prospect.
Mares Chase Big-Race Verdict
Admittedly, I was sceptical about the necessity of the Mares’ Chase when the idea was first announced, but it looks like it should be an absolutely cracking race if all the protagonists line-up and it’s one of the races I’m most looking forward to. COLREEVY gets the vote, she’s an accurate jumping, smooth travelling mare who has already reached a smart level over fences and I’d hope we’ve not yet seen the best of her.