Tattersalls and Cheltenham Racecourse have announced that National Hunt Breeders supported by Tattersalls is the new title of the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The £90,000 Grade Two contest takes place over an extended two miles and is the sixth race (4.50pm) on St Patrick’s Thursday, March 14th.
The new sponsorship involves breeders Shade Oak Stud, Upton Viva Stud, Trull House Stud, James and Jean Potter Ltd, Martyn Meade Racing and Overbury Stud.
The National Hunt Breeders supported by Tattersalls Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle was introduced to the Cheltenham Festival in 2016 to give more opportunities for fillies and mares.
It is the second race exclusively for female horses at the Cheltenham Festival, following on from the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle on Champion Day, Tuesday, March 12th, and is open to four-year-olds and upwards.
The first three runnings were sponsored by Trull House Stud, which is continuing as one of the contest’s backers.
The registered title of the race is the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in recognition of the great mare Dawn Run, who is the only horse to win both the Champion Hurdle (1984) and the Cheltenham Gold Cup (1986).
Willie Mullins, the most successful trainer of all-time at The Festival, has dominated the race so far, being victorious with the Susannah Ricci-owned pair of Limini (2016) and Let’s Dance (2017), plus Laurina (2018), all five-year-olds.
Laurina, who races in the colours Sullivan Bloodstock Limited, has developed into a leading contender for this year’s Unibet Champion Hurdle, while Limini could head to the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.
Ian Renton, Regional Director, Cheltenham & The South West, The Jockey Club, said today: “Since we introduced this race three years’ ago, we have had some impressive mares winning including Laurina and Limini.
“This just shows the strength of the mares’ division and I am sure that the race will only continue to grow in profile with the support of the National Hunt Breeders and Tattersalls.”
Commenting on the sponsorship, Tattersalls Ireland CEO, Matt Mitchell, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Grade Two Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival which will also be backed by National Hunt Breeders.
“National Hunt breeders are the backbone of this industry and their continuous efforts, along with our support, brings together what they strive to achieve to the forefront of racing.
“This sponsorship further strengthens Tattersalls relationship with Cheltenham Racecourse; the Cheltenham Sales have established themselves as a constant source of winners and we are excited about this further association with the Home of National Hunt Racing.”
Robert Waley-Cohen of Upton Viva Stud and Chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse further endorsed this new sponsorship.
Waley-Cohen said: “Upton Viva Stud is delighted to support the Grade Two National Hunt Breeders supported by Tattersalls Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
“It is important for mare owners to have a target at The Festival to aspire to win as this has a beneficial impact for breeders both financially and for the breed as a whole.
“The best mares are those who have proven their ability on the racecourse and this race provides a valuable opportunity.”
Another of the contest’s supporters, trainer and breeder Martyn Meade added: “National Hunt racing and breeding has been a big part of my racing career and I am really pleased to support the National Hunt Breeders by sponsoring the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
“It is fantastic to be associated with the best National Hunt Festival in the world.”
The 40 entries for the National Hunt Breeders supported by Tattersalls Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle were announced yesterday. Willie Mullins is responsible for 13 of the 40 entries, including Future Champions Novice Hurdle second Sancta Simona.
Unbeaten Honeysuckle and Punchestown Listed scorer Sinoria could both line up for another Irish trainer, Henry de Bromhead.
Posh Trish, trained by Paul Nicholls, twice successful at Listed level this season, and two from Nicky Henderson’s yard, Epatante, an impressive winner at Exeter on February 22nd, and the Waley-Cohen-owned Elusive Belle, feature among the British contenders.