David Nicholson Mares Hurdle Race Card

Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle) (Grade 1)

1st
Rachael Blackmore

Honeysuckle

Age: 6
Weight: 11.4
OR: 158
J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
travelled strongly, tracked leaders, led briefly 5th, good run on inner to lead turning in, kept on well from last, ridden out
2nd
Paul Townend

Benie Des Dieux

Age: 9
Weight: 11.4
OR: 162
J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
raced keenly, tracked leaders, challenged going well turning in, soon ridden, 1 length down last, kept on well but always being held
3rd
Danny Mullins

Elfile

Age: 6
Weight: 11.4
OR: 151
J:
 
Danny Mullins
T:
 
W P Mullins
pressed leader most of way, ridden and every chance after 2 out, squeezed up and lost place turning in, kept on but soon outpaced by front pair
4th
Harry Skelton

Roksana

Age: 8
Weight: 11.4
OR: 152
J:
 
Harry Skelton
T:
 
Dan Skelton
mid-division, headway 2 out, soon ridden, went 4th before last, not pace to get on terms
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Fifth race of Champions Day

The David Nicholson Mares Hurdle, usually known as ‘The Mares’ is the fifth race of the festival and the fourth and final Grade one of the opening day.

The race is run over 2 miles and 4 furlongs, with ten hurdles for the runners. The race is open to fillies and mares who are aged at least four.

History of the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle

The race is rather new to the festival, having only been introduced in 2008. When first coming into the programme, it was run as a Grade two contest and run on the Friday of the meeting however switched to the opening the day from 2009. The race was also upped to Grade one status in 2015.

The race is named in memory of Dave Nicholson, who died in 2006. Nicholson was both a jockey and then a trainer who enjoyed success at the Cheltenham Festival, victorious on five occasions as a jockey and 17 when training.

The race is currently sponsored by OLGB, who have been the only sponsors of the race. OLGB have also upped the prize money and since the race being promoted to Grade One status, the prize money is now just over £70,000 for first place.

Recent Years

The first running of the race in 2008 was won by Whiteoak for Donald McCain and Jason Maguire. After that however, it became a one-horse race, with the Willie Mullins trained Quevega winning the race for six successive years between 2009 and 2014.

The Mullins domination however didn’t stop there, going onto win the race with three different horses in 2015, 2016, 2018, with a further two success for Ruby Walsh.

This obviously means the pair together are the top trainer and jockey for the race. Mullins has won the race 9 times from the 12 times it’s been staged, with Walsh notching up eight victories. The full list is as follows:

Willie Mullins:

Quevega (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Glens Melody (2015)

Vroum Vroum Mag (2016)

Benie Des Dieux (2018)

Ruby Walsh:

Quevega (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Vroum Vroum Mag (2016)

Benie Des Dieux (2018)

Looking at the stats, it’s worth noting anything that is therefore fielded by Willie Mullins, who usually has more than just the one runner.

Mullins wasn’t successful however in 2019, with the race going to England for just the second time as Harry and Dan Skelton tasted success on Roksana.

For all money, it seemed a 10th success in the race for Willie Mullins in the race and a ninth for Ruby Walsh, with Benie Des Dieux clear before falling at the last.

Whilst there will be no Ruby Walsh this year, Paul Townend will likely ride Mullins’ main hope. He has experience of winning the race too, steering Glens Melody to success in 2015.

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