Kilbeggan Races Winner "Put The Kettle On" Wins the Arkle Grade 1 Chase at Cheltenham Festival, in the hands of Aidan Copeland and trained by Henry de Bromhead. Congratulations to all, we are thrilled for a Kileggan graduate to Win the Top Novice Chase in the Uk and Ireland. pic.twitter.com/Dn3D5IihGa
— Kilbeggan Races (@KilbegganRaces) March 10, 2020
Nine of the 14 Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 winners this past season were trained in Ireland, and a third of those were mares.
That bodes very well indeed for the future, not least because the 2021 edition of Britain’s premier National Hunt race meeting is to have the inaugural running of a steeplechase just for them.
Mares have always been a part of the sport, but right now it feels like there are more high-profile females than ever. Those three Grade 1 heroines are all plenty young enough to be at Cheltenham again and will doubtless become broodmares once their racing careers end.
Here, we recap the Irish-trained mares’ major successes and what the future holds for them next season.
Put The Kettle On
Twice unfancied to win graded contests at Cheltenham, Put The Kettle On advertised her Arkle claims by winning the official trial for the race back in November. Many assumed trainer Henry De Bromhead didn’t run the six-year-old again afterwards as he was protecting her mark for the Festival.
Put The Kettle On did indeed have an entry in the Listed novices’ handicap chase, but connections were aiming higher. Despite her humble beginnings over fences, this was more than some summer jumper, and she proved it when outrunning odds of 16/1 – pulling off another shock result at the Cheltenham Festival under Aidan Coleman in the process.
As Put The Kettle On stays further, building her campaign around the Mares’ Chase which will be run over two-and-a-half miles is an option for next term. She is a clear contender for that at ante-post odds of 17/2 – less than half the price of her 2021 Queen Mother Champion Chase quote of 20/1.
While De Bromhead stable companion Honeysuckle remains unbeaten, she is very hot property indeed. This six-year-old is an exceptional hurdler and proved she is more than a mere Fairyhouse specialist with her last two victories.
Although made to work for her Irish Champion Hurdle victory, Honeysuckle had youth on her side when back over her optimum trip in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle. Billed as a match with the mighty Benie Des Dieux, De Bromhead’s charge had the run of the race at Cheltenham.
Options abound for Honeysuckle. She could remain over hurdles and against her own sex, or take on the geldings once again. Whatever path she takes, Honeysuckle looks sure to be prominent in the betting.
While there was a touch of fortune about Burning Victory winning the Triumph Hurdle on Gold Cup day with runaway leader Goshen unseating when clear at the final flight, the way she stayed on from off the pace was impressive. Irish champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins had another fine French-bred filly on his hands here.
Burning Victory has made rapid progress since joining the Closutton maestro. She looks as though she will get further in time and, after just two hurdles starts, there is plenty of reason to try open company before going over fences later on.
At the tender age of four, Burning Victory has tons of scope to get better. Granted further progress, ante-post odds of 18/1 for the Mares’ Hurdle – a race which handler Mullins has won nine times – look each-way value.