With the Cheltenham Festival now just months away, the Racing Post’s Upping the Ante takes a look at the Mares’ Novice Hurdle, with Allegorie De Vassy the clear favourite at 4/1.

Discussing the fixture, David Jennings and Gavin Lynch believed that there had been an error with the bookies pricing, arguing that Brandy Love (5/1) should be the joint favourite along with Allegorie De Vassey.

Meanwhile, Jennings observed that Elle Est Belle, the fifth favourite at 8/1 and the only one of the top five horses in the race to have not been trained by Willie Mullins, has a ‘cracking chance’ at the race and could be suited by its fast pace. 

From Lynch’s persepctive, Statuaire – a 7/1 outsider according to odds from Upping the Ante’s partner bookmaker, bet365 – could be one to watch out for, with the horse due to run at Leopardstown this Sunday.

He also noted: “Party Central is one interesting horse. It runs in the handicap this weekend, it’s 14/1 and bigger for the Mares Novice hurdle. 

“Another horse to mention is Bride’s Hill- this horse has come from nowhere and won a handicap at Christmas very easily.”

With the four-day horse racing event, one of the biggest meetings of the British and Irish calendar, coming up just around the corner, many bettors are eagerly awaiting to see if Rachael Blackmore can repeat her 2021 success.

The Irish jockey stormed last year’s festival, capturing six different trophies, whilst runners from her home country also similarly dominated the proceedings. 

Punters who bet big on the Irish received a hefty payout last year – although operators also recorded strong results, with record numbers of betting slips processed by companies such as Scientific Games

In a previous episode of Upping the Ante, Lynch and Jennings predicted even more success for their homeland’s jockeys and trainers at the 2022 meeting, with the former anticipating a strong performance for Bob Ollinger in the Turners’ Novices Chase,

“Bob Ollinger – it all circulates around him,” he emphasised. “He was brilliant in the Ballymore, his Chase debut in Gorm Park was good, he made one or two mistakes and not everyone was delighted with him but I’d give him at least an eight out of 10.

“The race revolves around him. He’s hopefully going to run at Punchestown this Sunday, it’s a graded two and a half mile novice chase, so all eyes will be one whether he’s entered.”

Upping the Ante: Disputed favourites in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle