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Mares Hurdle Entries 2016
Thu, Jan 21st, 2016

Power heads OLBG Mares' Hurdle entries

There are 45 entries for the Grade One OLBG Mares' Hurdle, run over two and a half miles, headed by Annie Power. The Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old has been successful on 12 of her 14 starts. Her only reversals have come at The Festival - she was second in the 2014 World Hurdle and fell at the last in the 2015 OLBG Mares' Hurdle with the race at her mercy.

Her trainer Willie Mullins has six entries in total, including Morning Run, successful on six of her seven starts, Grade One scorer Petite Parisienne and Vroum Vroum Mag who is better known as a chaser. There are 16 Irish-trained entries in total and other leading hopes include Ballychorus (Mags Mullins), who could revert to hurdles following two falls when bang in contention in competitive handicap chases.

Northern Ireland handler Ben Arthey has yet to saddle a runner at Cheltenham but is looking forward to getting Jennys Melody back to the track. The seven-year-old mare looked a progressive performer last season, scoring impressively in novice company at Sedgefield and Newcastle before rounding off her campaign by defeating seasoned opposition in a mares' handicap hurdle at Ayr's Scottish Grand National meeting in April.

Arthey, who is based in Co Antrim, commented: "Jennys Melody had a bit of a setback after she won at Ayr so that is why she has not run yet this season. It wasn't career-threatening but it kept reoccurring and held us up. We are getting her going again now.

"She improved with every run last year, both physically and mentally. She has to improve a hell of lot again to take on the likes of Annie Power but if you are not in, you can't win and we thought she was worth an entry. She is physically much stronger than she was at this time last year.

"I think she probably is better on good ground, but has won on heavy ground too. We could look at taking her over for a Listed race at Warwick for her comeback run and see where we go from there (the olbg.com Mares' Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs on February 13).

"She won a bumper at Sedgefield on the Tuesday of Cheltenham two years ago and a novices' hurdle on the same Tuesday last year - it would be great if she won on the same Tuesday again this year!"

Other leading hopes include Aurore D'Estruval (Rebecca Curtis), who shaped with promise on her return to action when fourth to Camping Ground in the Grade Two Dornan Engineering Cleeve Hurdle and last year's runner-up, Polly Peachum (Nicky Henderson), who led home The Govaness (Dr Richard Newland), Fairytale Theatre (Dan Skelton) and Gitane Du Berlais (Willie Mullins) when winning a Listed contest at Sandown on January 2. Bitofapuzzle (Harry Fry) was third last year before going on to score in Grade One company at Fairyhouse.

OLBG sponsor a series of six races on the Road to Cheltenham and the winners of the first three have all been entered - Blue Buttons (Harry Fry), Morello Royale (Colin Tizzard) and Lily Waugh (Anthony Honeyball).

The OLBG Mares' Road To Cheltenham 2015/16 series:
Wetherby - Saturday, October 31, 2015 - 2m 110y Listed Hurdle - won by Blue Buttons
Kempton - Monday, November 23, 2015 - 3m 110y Listed Hurdle - won by Morello Royale
Cheltenham - Saturday, December 12, 2015 - 2m 4f 56y Handicap Hurdle - won by Lily Waugh
Ascot - Saturday, January 23, 2016 - 2m 7f 118y Grade Two Hurdle
Doncaster - Saturday, January 30, 2016 - 2m 140y Grade Two Hurdle
Warwick - Saturday, February 13, 2016 - 2m 5f Listed Hurdle
Cheltenham - Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 2m 3f 200y Grade One Hurdle

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