The Big Question: Who is the best Mares’ Hurdle bet against Quevega?


Quevega may be the idea of a banker for many punters at this year’s Cheltenham Festival and an unbeaten record at the course, alongside her five successive victories in the Mares’ Hurdle, make her really tough to oppose for the same race again.

However, the fact that she is always a short-priced favourite for the Mares’ Hurdle does ensure that plenty of value can be found throughout the remainder of the market.

The 2013 renewal epitomises this, with the five horses to follow Quevega home priced at 33/1, 40/1, 66/1, 100/1 and 40/1.

Meanwhile, a horse priced at a minimum of 20/1 has finished in the first three in each of Quevega’s previous five Mares’ Hurdle victories.

So the obvious question for the Mares’ Hurdle this year is which horse represents the each-way value behind 8/11 favourite Quevega, who incidentally is top industry price with Coral?

Sirene D’Ainay (8/1) was second last year on her first British start, but the fact that she has been finding one too good in her recent French starts is a slight concern.

Highland Retreat (14/1) and Cailin Annamh (16/1) are the pair that instantly stand out as each-way options.

Highland Retreat beat a respected field including Carole’s Spirit at Ascot last time and the fact that this success was over 3m does indicate that she will have no stamina issues.

Trainer Harry Fry has tasted success with 35 per cent of his British runners this season and with his horses obviously in form, Highland Retreat is one to keep onside.

Cailin Annamh has won on each of her last four starts, which included a fairly routine success when stepping into group company for the first time on her latest outing.

The potential jockey booking of Barry Geraghty would be a further boost, while her turn of foot once being stoked up should ensure that, like Quevega, she is running on once they turn into the home straight.

At the bigger prices, Layla Joan (20/1) is worth a second look after blotting her copy book by falling at the first flight last time.

She is yet to step out of novice company, but her potential seems untapped.

Meanwhile, Jennies Jewel (33/1) finished ahead of Dunguib and Mourad at Naas in January, which is decent form and should she run to Dunguib’s mark of 148 at Cheltenham, this could be enough to finish in the top three.

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