Warfield Mares’ Hurdle – Race Preview
The Warfield Mares Hurdle is one of the feature races at Ascot on Saturday afternoon and is this season sponsored by OLBG. The Warfield is a race exclusively for mares aged four-years and older and is run over a distance of 3 miles with a total of 13 hurdles jumped. All eyes on Saturday will be on the Willie Mullins trained Vroum Vroum Mag, who comes into the race having won all seven of her races to date.
Vroum Vroum Mag unsurprisingly is the current ante-post favourite for Saturday’s race having won both her races so far this season in a canter. Victory in a Mares Novice Chase event at Clonmel in November was followed up with victory over hurdles also at Clonmel just before Christmas. Connections are hoping that Saturday’s race will provide some guidance towards her Cheltenham Festival target, with the mare currently holding entries in both the World Hurdle and the Mares Hurdle. Saturday’s race will be Vroum Vroum Mag’s first run in the UK and will also be her first run over a distance further than 2 miles and 6 furlongs. However, having won so effortlessly in her two previous runs this season, the step up in trip is unlikely to prove an issue.
Trainer Harry Fry has enjoyed a fantastic season so far and he is represented in Saturday’s race by Desert Queen. Victory in a Class 3 Mares Hurdle at Ascot in November was followed up with a second place in a Class 2 event at Kempton at Christmas. Her Kempton run was impressive, staying on well over 3 miles and she will look to ensure that Saturday’s race is a true test of stamina for Vroum Vroum Mag.
Rebecca Curtis trains Aurore D’Estruval and will use Saturday’s race as a prep race for the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Aurore D’Estruval has only ran once so far this season, placing 4th at Chepstow on New Years Day in the Grade 2 Reelkeel Hurdle. Back amongst her own sex on Saturday, Aurore D’Estruval could well run a big race and provide the strongest challenge to Vroum Vroum Mag.
The Govaness is another notable runner on Saturday, trained by Dr Richard Newland. Last seen when being beaten by a head in a Listed event at Sandown at the start of month, Saturday’s race will be the first attempt at 3 miles for The Govaness. Her running style suggests that the step up in trip will be ideal and with Will Kennedy again booked to take the ride, she could well run into the places.
Vroum Vroum Mag is the current ante-post favourite for Saturday’s race at 1.4 (2/5). Desert Queen is available at 7 (6/1) with Aurore D’Estruval and The Govaness both at 9 (8/1). The horse racing tip for Saturday’s Warfield Hurdle is Aurore D’Estruval each-way at 9 (8/1).
By: Scott McGlynn