It’s ladies day at Cheltenham for day two of the April meeting, well not in terms of those watching at the track but for those performing on it as the fillies and mares fill every race on the card.
The highlights are the Grade 3 Juvenile Handicap Hurdle where we may see some future stars of the game and the final of the Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase Series Final, a Listed event.
2.05 (Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – Listed Race) – INDEFATIGABLE
Let’s hope this one lives up to her name if the finish turns into a real battle going up the hill, but that may not be necessary as a close look at her form seems to put her right up there with likely favourite Posh Trish and given that she gets a 5lb weight concession here, she seems to have plenty in her favour today.
Paul Webber’s mare was beaten 2 lengths by Posh Trish earlier in the season when again in receipt of the same weight, but she has improved since and it is very fair to say her rival doesn’t perform quite as well when the ground is not rain-softened. Kim Bailey’s Diamond Gait could prove to be best of the rest.
2.40 (Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase Series Final – Listed Race) – LITTLE MISS POET
With the ground nice and dry it could pay to side with a mare who is quickest, weight adjusted that is, between her fences and in Little Miss Poet we may have found the perfect one.
Her speed figures are more impressive than those of her main rivals Kupatana and Desirable Court and that could be the difference on the day all being well.
She perhaps needs to prove now she can do it on an undulating track of course, but her form stands up well and having had a break being off the track for two months she comes here fresh enough and ready to do herself justice for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson.
3.15 (Mares’ Handicap Hurdle – Listed Race) – INESSA
There are plenty of mares in with chances here; many with good enough form and some who seem to prefer this faster going but when it’s hard to pick one out it often pays to go with the one seemingly improving the most and so Dr Richard Newland’s Inessa gets the vote.
Despite being a beaten odds-on favourite last time out she has generally been on an upward curve and it seems this extra yardage is set to get further improvement out of her. She put in at least one performance in Germany in the past that would have seen her rated close to 90 on the flat and so with that in mind she looks potentially well handicapped.
Dan Skelton’s Late Night Lily and the Queen’s Sunshade, trained by Nicky Henderson, are probably next on the list.
3.50 (Class 3 Mares’ Handicap Chase) – SHENEEDEDTHERUN
This lowly weighted 9yo mare has only been with trainer Ben Pauling since February but she quickly put in a good performance for him at Warwick when beaten into second place that month.
True, she wasn’t so good last time out at the same venue but that was over a more extreme distance and on soft ground so it is very much expected that she can return to form today and if anything take another step forward for her current handler.
Topweight Molly Childers is solid enough as you’d expect while Charlie Longsdon’s Aunty Ann comes into the reckoning as well with those two mares making up the shortlist.
4.25 (Fillies’ Juvenile Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3) – TAZKA
Gary Moore’s filly has perhaps had more chances on the course than many of her rivals, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t kept on improving as expected for a four-year-old and she could take another significant step forward in this race to become a Grade 3 winner.
Although beaten into third last time out, her latest run was definitely her best in a £40,000 handicap and considering that the neither the trip nor the ground were in her favour, we can certainly upgrade that performance and that’s something that gives her an outstanding chance at these weights.
Down at the bottom end of the handicap, Kerry Lee’s Pilgrim Soul is no forlorn hope while at the top the Paul Nicholls-trained Miranda holds plenty of appeal as well.
4.55 (Class 2 Mares’ Handicap Chase) – ALIZEE DE JANEIRO
It’s easy to see why many will be taken with the topweight for this race, Happy Diva, but it’s possible she’s got more than enough on her plate in such a competitive race carrying 11st12lbs and so attentions turn elsewhere.
While Whatduhavtoget makes some appeal for Dan Skelton having won two and finished second once in just four chase starts, there is plenty more to like about Alizee De Janeiro down at the bottom end of the handicap and Lucinda Russell’s raider is fancied to make it six wins out of 8.
This is more competitive than she’s been used to but she just keeps improving and if anything wants a stiffer challenge, something this opposition and this course together will be glad to serve up to her.
5.30 (Class 2 Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race) – MYSTIC DREAMER
These bumper races are notoriously hard to solve in advance of the market opening up of course, so take notice of any serious cash coming for a horse close to post time, but based on the knowledge we have Nick Gifford’s Mystic Dreamer could well be the one after her good debut second at Ascot back in February.
The soft ground wasn’t to her liking next time and she can return to form here under jockey Leighton Aspell and perhaps be good enough to get the better of Yeavering Belle and Early Morning Rain.