Cheltenham Ante-Post Tips 2024: Henderson filly Under-estimated in Mares’ Hurdle market

 | November 22 | 

4 mins read

Cheltenham racecourse

We're now a quarter of the way along the road to the 2024 Cheltenham Festival - and it's time for my biggest-priced selection yet.

Cheltenham Ante-Post Tips 2024

  • Under Control @ 25/1 for the Mares' Hurdle

In the main, it's the same five names - Lossiemouth, Ashroe Diamond, Gala Marceau, You Wear It Well and Love Envoi - being touted as potential Mares' Hurdle winners.

Obviously, they've all got fair claims, but are any really that convincing?

Current antepost favourite Lossiemouth was last season's star juvenile, but she's plenty short enough at 5/2. That Triumph Hurdle form is yet to be properly tested and it wouldn't be a surprise, to me at least, if Willie Mullins' mare is kept at two miles this term.

Stablemate Gala Marceau, who was second to Lossiemouth at Cheltenham, looks certain to go down this route having put up a career-best performance over a similar trip in France back in May, but again - just how strong is that form?

You Wear It Well is a likeable mare who's hard to knock, but I suspect she's seen to best effect when making all over a shorter distance - while Love Envoi, who was runner-up to Honeysuckle in the latest renewal, looks ground dependent and I think still has something to prove.

The one I fear most is Ashroe Diamond. Some of her form lines are top-class, including when bolting up in the G1 Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse back in April. Even she has vulnerabilities, though.

The bottom line? I think it's a wide-open division that could easily feature one or two 'lurkers' at much bigger prices.

That brings me to the Nicky Henderson-trained, JP McManus-owned Under Control.

After winning a three-year-old hurdle on the other side of The Channel in December last year, the Doctor Dino filly was sent to Seven Barrows in February before making a striking impression on her debut for the yard a month later.

It wasn't an overly-competitive juvenile hurdle she won at Newbury under a motionless Nico De Boinville, but she could hardly have done it any easier - and connections were clearly impressed, for just 13 days later they tried her in the Mares' Novices Hurdle at the Festival.

That was a mistake. Henderson himself admits as much, saying she wasn't ready for it. I wouldn't give that performance a second thought, to be honest.

She left it miles behind, anyway, when easily landing a fillies' juvenile handicap at HQ in April before a statement success in the lucrative Novices' Championship Final Handicap Hurdle at Sandown a matter of days later.

That victory gives me belief she can reach Grade 1 heights this season. Off level weights, she beat stablemate Iberico Lord, who was a taking winner of the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham's November Meeting, in good fashion. The pair were over six lengths clear of multiple subsequent winners too, providing even more substance to the form.

Henderson, who always speaks glowingly about this horse, is sending her to the Gerry Fielden - a Listed handicap hurdle he often uses for his better fillies and mares - at Newbury in just under two weeks.

"She's come back looking great after her summer break and she will go down the Mares' Hurdle route.

"I adore her. She's blessed with a beautiful temperament and could go a long way down the mares' hurdling route."

Nicky Henderson on Under Control

Chances are she lines up with leading claims - and if she wins, quotes of 25/1 will likely be a thing of the past. Certainly if she looks impressive, which I'd say is possible if we get a similar field to previous years.

There's then plenty of options for her in the run-up to Cheltenham. Don't be surprised or worried if she's kept at two miles, for the Mares' will surely be her target providing she's good enough and Champion Hurdle favourite Constitution Hill stays sound.

Stay tuned to Betfred Insights for more Cheltenham Tips as we build-up to the 2024 Festival

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