Cheltenham Ante-Post Tips 2024: Consider adding this exciting mare to your Festival team

 | January 03 | 

4 mins read

Cheltenham racecourse

It's been a couple of weeks since my last Cheltenham Festival antepost column, during which the landscape has changed a fair bit.

Christmas has passed and we're into a new year - and the feast of festive racing we're still digesting has caused a shake-up of many an antepost market.

There was no shortage of impressive performances but, with my eye on those four days in March, one stood out above the rest.

Cheltenham Ante-Post Tips 2024

  • Jade De Grugy @ 10/1 for the Mares' Novices' Hurdle

One market that didn't change much over the Christmas period was the Mares' Novices' Hurdle, largely due to current favourites Brighterdaysahead and Dysart Enos remaining in their boxes at Cullentra and Ravenswell respectively.

There was one significant mover, though - Jade De Grugy for the Willie Mullins camp.

I thought the five-year-old daughter of Doctor Dino was extremely impressive in winning a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown last Thursday on what was only her second ever start - her first over hurdles and for new connections.

Some have already tried to downplay the form, making the 'she's beaten trees' assessment, but I think that's unfair.

Pretty much on the bridle, she put 15 lengths between herself and Butcher Hollow - a £200,000 purchase who'd already won a bumper by over four lengths before finishing runner-up to a nice prospect of Gordon Elliott's in a 26-runner maiden hurdle - who had the rest of the field over 11 lengths behind.

I thought it was a perfect start. She jumped, she travelled, she stayed. She also appears ground versatile, given it was heavy that day and good to soft when she won a good contest on the flat in France over 1m4f.

Immediately after the race, Paul Townend spoke highly of this "exciting" mare - and Willie's son and assistant trainer Patrick has also had positive things to say.

"Jade De Grugy was very impressive in her maiden. She looks a live one for the Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham. She has plenty of class."

Patrick Mullins

I suspect this horse has gone a little under the radar, presumably due to the sheer volume of racing over the last week or so. The market usually overreacts to wide-margin winners for these connections, but not this time.

As I said when I suggested Tiger Bay Queen (who will hopefully appear in the coming weeks) for this race a few weeks back, it doesn't look a vintage renewal of the Mares' Novices' Hurdle.

I'm not totally convinced by the very raw Brighterdaysahead, while the form of Dysart Enos, as much as she's passed the eye test with flying colours, doesn't have all that much substance yet.

Then you're looking to the likes of Fun Fun Fun and Queens Gamble - both underwhelming in my book - Junta Marvel (may not return this season), Look To The West (slightly interesting) and Aurora Vega (staying in bumpers).

I'm willing to bet that Jade De Grugy, whose next port of call is surely the Solerina Mares' Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse later this month, is already in pole position in regards to Mullins' chances for race. Win the aforementioned Grade 3 and that's all but certain.

Bar hopefully Tiger Bay Queen, it's hard to envisage much coming out of the woodwork during the second half of the season, so I can only see the selection getting shorter and shorter as we get closer to the spring.

Jade De Grugy to win the Mares' Novices' Hurdle at 10/1

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

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