Limini Beats Apple’s Jade to Strengthen Mares’ Hurdle Claims
Limini has been cut into 7/4 joint-favourite for the Mares’ Hurdle following success in the Quevega Mares’ Hurdle on Tuesday at Punchestown. Willie Mullins’ runner was successful in the Mares Novices’ Hurdle 12 months ago and is set to take on the older horses this time around at the meeting.
The six-year-old was making her seasonal reappearance earlier this week and had not seen a racecourse since being beaten at the Punchestown Festival last April. She showed no signs of lacking fitness though as she defeated Apple’s Jade by two lengths in an impressive performance in the Listed contest.
If you are looking to place a bet on Cheltenham festival 2017, Limini can also be backed in the Champion Hurdle market where she was cut into 9-1 on the back of her Punchestown win. Her trainer suffered the blow of losing Annie Power and Faugheen for the Festival earlier in the season so may have to shuffle his entries around which could lead to the mare taking on the opposite sex just as her stablemate Annie Power did in 2016.
This year’s Mares’ Hurdle could be the strongest it has ever been since its inauguration in 2008. Mullins has won all but one of the runnings, with the opening year being the only time he did not train the winner when Whiteoak was successful for Donald McCain. The Irish Champion Trainer could be double-handed next month as the defending Champion Vroum Vroum Mag, who is the other 7/4 joint-favourite, is likely to feature again.
Vroum Vroum Mag was beaten on her opening start of the season at Fairyhouse when Apple’s Jade got the better of her by a short-head. She bounced back well later that month though, to land the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown where she went off the 8/15 favourite for the contest.
Mullins’ mare travelled across to Doncaster recently where she stepped down in trip at the Yorkshire track and despite not being at her best, she managed to get home in front by a head in a close finish with Midnight Jazz. That has left Mullins with a decision to make over whether she runs in the Mares’ Hurdle next month or goes back to 3m for the Stayers’ Hurdle where she is quoted in the betting at 6/1.
Connections of Apple’s Jade will be hoping their mare can reverse the form with Limini when they meet again at Cheltenham. The five-year-old has had a mixed campaign so far. After switching to Gordon Elliott’s yard in the summer, she made her seasonal reappearance at Down Royal where she finished second to Rashaan. She was then well backed in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle but lost out to Irving by a nose.
Apple’s Jade victory at Fairyhouse in the Grade One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle was her best run of the season. She was only four at the time and was able to get the better of the much more experienced Vroum Vroum Mag.
If Limini, Vroum Vroum Mag and Apple’s Jade all run in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle, it could be the race of the Festival as not many other contests have very little between the top three runners in the betting.