MARES’ STEEPLE CHASE INFO
Date: Friday, March 17, 2023
Type: Grade 3 National Hunt Steeplechase
Distance: 2 Miles ½ Furlong
It goes without saying then that this is a race packed with history and is therefore one that punters, jockeys, owners and trainers all want to be successful in, nobody more so than Nicky Henderson.
The popular trainer’s father, Johnny, had his name added to the race title in 2005 in honour of he and his colleagues choosing to buy the racecourse to safeguard its future when the land was under consideration for property development.
This time around the Mares’ Steeple Chase will be run on Friday March 18th, the fourth day of the Cheltenham Festival, at 4.15PM, the penultimate race of the meeting, and will be worth some £110,000. A handicap chase over two miles and half a furlong, the Mares’ Steeple Chase holds Grade 3 status and features fourteen fences over the New Course.
As we’ve been at pains to point out on our early overviews of other Cheltenham Festival races we have various challenges here, namely that we’re a long way out from knowing who will run, this is a handicap meaning at this stage we don’t know what weights they will carry and even if we second guess those things correctly we have to attempt to determine what level we think each of the contenders will be at come March.
All of this is without knowing what form each of the yards will be in and what sort of ground we will encounter come March 18th, but in any case with a small handful of online bookmakers offering us early odds on this race we can have a crack and getting ourselves a couple of reasonable ante post bets in the bag for the Mares’ Steeple Chase.
With leading rider in this race Graham Bradley long since retired and no other jockey having won it more than once in the last ten years, there’s little we can glean from the stats of the pilots involved.
The most successful trainer in the Mares’ Steeple Chase of all time however is Paul Nicholls with four wins and he will once again be sure to have at least one strong candidate for the race, likely to be last year’s favourite Magic Saint.
We can gather more from the form, age and place held in the market by the last ten winners and that’s what can help us narrow down this field.
You’ll see from the list of the last ten champs that Mares’ Steeple Chase winners have tended to take in less runs as the years have gone on, perhaps in order to keep themselves fresh. 8 of the last ten winners have been placed that season but other than that, there’s not a whole lot to go on in such a competitive handicap.
Croco Bay was a real anomaly both in terms of his age and his SP, so we’re happy to take him out of the equation here, leaving 8 of the last nine winners aged 7-9 which seems to be ideal for a race of this nature.
Only one favourite has won this in the past decade, while there have also been wins at 40/1 and 66/1. Putting those things together you’d think that it would be nigh impossible to be able to use the market as a guide in the Mares’ Steeple Chase, but not so.
6 of the last ten winners went off at odds of between 15/2 and 20/1, the average SP taking out the one favourite and the two freakish outsiders being 16/1 and that’s right in the desired area. Horses ranging from around 8/1 up to 20/1 could well feature the winner.
There is so much information to take in and, more pertinently, so many unknowns among the variables that picking out one or even two solid ante post bets is tough for this race.
That said, the very nature of ante post markets means that we will get some chunky prices on our horses so we can afford to back them to small stakes while using what knowledge of the game we have to attempt to get one over on the bookmakers.
As the battle for online custom continued to intensify before reaching fever pitch, the week of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival proved to be utterly vintage for offers and promotions.
Such was the largesse of the major online firms, Cheltenham deals were listed as a contributory factor in the overall gambling yield falling in Britain last year but despite this, they remain in deep need to attract new customers in and so if you’re ready to open an account around Festival time, then make sure you do so with a very good bonus.
We hope that bookmakers at least repeat some of the great deals from last time around, including Coral’s non-runner money back special on all Cheltenham races and Paddy Power’s Cheltenham special of a £10 money back in cash if your horse loses for newbies only.
Right now, it’s all about the rather incomplete ante post market for the Mares’ Steeple Chase, but as more trainers state their intentions and more prep races are run, we should see a much more active market.
Around half of all bets placed online on this race have been for Magic Saint, though in fairness there haven’t been too many of them so we shouldn’t read too much into that.
When the final declarations are made for this event on Wednesday March 11th, two days before the race, we will know the exact each-way terms offered by each layer as well as the crucial ground conditions and finals weights meaning we can nail down a better selection and take advantage of the widely offered ‘best odds guaranteed’ promotion.
There are 10 Past Mares’ Steeple Chase Winners:
When the Mares’ Steeple Chase gets underway, such is the history surrounding this event, there is no feeling that the Cheltenham Festival is winding down at all even towards the end of four gruelling days and that was the case in 2019.
As the tapes went up Paul Nicholls’ Magic Saint was the market leader at 9/2 followed by Not Another Muddle at 6/1 and Mind’s Eye, a 7/1 chance.
The market was lively, as always, but the one nobody had considered was Ben Case’s 66/1 chance Croco Bay. The old warrior, twelve years of age by that stage, had run just once since his Mares’ Steeple Chase 5th in 2017 and was basically unconsidered by backers and layers alike.
Having led at the tenth fence though, Kielan Woods’ mount battled on manfully right to the line to cause a real shock in the world’s oldest National Hunt race.