Wednesday 5 April 2023

Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle

The Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle is a Grade 2 hurdle race run over 2 miles and 179 yards at Cheltenham in March. As the name suggests, the race is restricted to young female horses aged four years and upwards who, prior to the start of the current season, have not won a race over hurdles. The titular Dawn Run was an extraordinary racemare, who remains the only horse in history to have won both the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Currently scheduled for the third day of the four-day Cheltenham Festival, the race is a recent addition to the programme, having been inaugurated as recently as 2016. Since its inception, it has been run under various titles, for sponsorship purposes, most recently as the Ryanair Mares' Novices' Hurdle.

It would be fair to say that Willie Mullins, the leading trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Festival, has 'farmed' the Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle in its short history. In fact, Mullins won the first five of the seven renewals so far, with Limini (2016), Let's Dance (2017), Laurina (2018), Eglantine du Seuil (2019) and Concertista (2020). The 2023 renewal is scheduled for Thursday, March 16, but at this still early stage, Mullins' five-year-old mare Ashroe Diamond – who opened her account over hurdles at the first time of asking at Navan in November, 2022 – heads the ante-post betting market at 9/1.

Mullins' dominance aside, recent trends suggest that punters might do well to concentrate on mares aged five or six years, officially rated 136 or higher, who have run at least twice and, preferably, won at least once, during the current season. Likely candidates could include Ahorsewithnoname, who finished a close second last year, but remains a novice over hurdles, and Luccia, who has yet to jump a hurdle in public, but could hardly have been more impressive when winning a Listed 'bumper' at Sandown by 17 lengths last March.

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