The Cheltenham Festival is on the horizon, and whilst the famous ‘Cheltenham Roar’ will be replaced by an eerie silence at Prestbury Park this year in the absence of thousands of fans, there is still a lot to look forward too. Amongst the 14 thrilling Grade 1 races, including the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Champion Hurdle and of course the Gold Cup, there is a now new race added to the four-day meeting.
That’s right, the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase will have its inaugural outing at this year’s Festival, replacing the Novice Handicap Chase, which will now take place at Sandown on the Imperial Cup card. The two-mile, four-and-a-half-furlong Grade 2 is the penultimate race of the meeting. So, with the Cheltenham betting beginning to gain some traction with just weeks to go, let’s take a look at the early favourites for the race.
Benie Des Dieux – 5/2
Benie Des Dieux hasn’t had the best of luck at Prestbury Park in recent years. Since her narrow victory in the Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle in 2018, she fell on the defence of her crown in 2019 and was narrowly pipped from regaining the title last year by Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore, who won by half-a-length. Benie Des Dieux hasn’t raced since then, but she is currently the joint-favourite and it would be foolish to rule out the 10-year-old.
Elimay – 5/2
Willie Mullins’ yard are firmly leading the market, and stablemates Elimay and Benie Des Dieux are set to go head-to-head as the joint favourites. Elimay’s recent five-and-a-half-length victory in a Mares Chase at Naas got her back into winning ways ahead of the Festival, and as a result her odds have been slashed from as far out as 10/1 to as short as 5/2. Given that Elimay has run more recently, more punters may fancy her chances of landing first place in the fast racing results.
Colreevy – 3/1
If two Mullins-trained horses at the forefront of the betting wasn’t enough, then let’s add Colreevy to the mix. At 3/1, the eight-year-old is hot on the heels of her stablemates, and she is certainly boasting the kind of form that could see her land a victory at Cheltenham. Three wins on the trot, including a 15-length victory at Punchestown and a 12-length triumph at Thurles more recently, have put her in good stead to compete with her aforementioned stablemates.
Put The Kettle On – 6/1
Put The Kettle On is leading the best of the rest. However, if you cast your mind back to last year’s Festival, you’ll know that she can never be written off. That victory in the Arkle Challenge Trophy was one of the highlights of last year’s meeting, and if Henry de Bromhead does opt for the Mrs Paddy Power as opposed to the Queen Mother, then Put The Kettle On is certainly one to watch, and is well worth a punt at 6/1.
Annie Mc – 8/1
Those who love reality TV will probably be familiar with Annie Mc, as she often features on Chris Hughes’ social media pages. The Love Island star is the frontman for the Jonjo O’Neill-trained seven-year-old and he’ll certainly be hoping that she can carry on her good form of late at the Cheltenham Festival. Annie Mc was ninth in last year’s Novices’ Chase and a few more disappointing outings followed. However, a massive 16-length victory in the Yorkshire Silver Vase Mares’ Chase at Doncaster in December, which was backed up recently with a win in Warwick, will have all of her connections brimming with confidence ahead of the meeting.