16:15 - Mares' Novices' Hurdle
It is clear that Willie Mullins is a big fan of this race, winning all 5 renewals since it’s establishment in 2016, so it’s no surprise to see Closutton have a strong hand this year.
Glens Of Antrim is a relatively unexposed sort for Mr Mullins and has been behind some nice horses in Stattler, Blue Lord and Mr Incredible. Although she’s a maiden, it’s telling that the Closutton barn have stuck with her in the race and that there is some market support for her. Jonjo O’Neill Jr taking the ride is also of interest. The only downsides are that she’s never traveled, or been at Cheltenham before.
However, there are two challengers to Closutton maestro’s throne. One of which is the favourite Royal Kahala. She is very well in on the weights, receiving 9 lbs from her Solerina conqueror Roseys Hollow. However, like the latter, she has yet to travel or race at Cheltenham. Secondly, Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore are enjoying a stellar Cheltenham Festival and they team up with the improving Telmesomethinggirl. She was third, when conceding weight, behind two nice sorts and is open to improvement.
Finally, Hook Up was last seen 4th to what would’ve been the first three home in the Supreme Novice’s, if Blue Lord hadn’t fallen. She has traveled over and ran at Cheltenham before, and there’s nothing to suggest she didn’t enjoy the run in what was a very competitive Triumph Hurdle. She retains Danny Mullins, who rode her last time out and at Cheltenham last year. All the evidence points to her being the stable’s first choice and could very well make it 6 consecutive wins.
HOOK UP (WIN)
written by Kieran McHugh