Wetherby hosts first step on OLBG Mares' Road

L'Unique: the OLBG race "looks an ideal starting point" for the mare
(Photo: Mark Cranham)
THE OLBG.com Mares' Hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday is the first step along the OLBG Mares' Road to Cheltenham for some of the top National Hunt mares and fillies.
L'Unique, trained by Alan King, is likely to be one of the favourites in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle.
The stable told the sponsors of the race, sports betting community OLBG.com: "L'Unique worked well this morning [Wednesday] and is on course to make her seasonal debut at Wetherby on Saturday. 
"This race looks an ideal starting point although it will be tough as she carries an 8lb penalty. However we hope for a very competitive run."
Oliver Sherwood, trainer of the five-year-old mare Mischievous Milly, another declared runner, told OLBG: "The OLBG Mares' Hurdle has been the target since she came back in off grass.
"She is as fit as I can get her at home but she will certainly improve for the run and experience. Hopefully she will be good enough to contest the OLBG Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March."
Mischievous Milly's wins both came on very poor ground so any further rain should hold no fears for her. However, the worry is whether she's battle-hardened or experienced enough to beat the likes of Une Artiste, who has won five of her eight runs in the UK, two defeats being attributed to the good ground. She's also won twice returning from breaks so she is likely to be tough competition.
Une Artiste's trainer, Nicky Henderson, told OLBG: "She's fresh and well and in good shape, but she'll come on for the run. This is a great series and it was an obvious starting point for her."
The Mares' Road to Cheltenham is part of OLBG's continued support to help turn around the declining number of jumps mares in training.
Although 50 per cent of the thoroughbreds born are fillies, the number bred to go jumping that actually do so is far from that figure.
The concern is that there will be a lack of quality horses produced to cater for the jumps fixture list, meaning serious implications for the sport as a whole in the years to come.
Robert Waley-Cohen, successful breeder and owner of Long Run, told the Racing Post: "We have a problem coming and we've got to make fillies more valuable at auction.
Stefanie Reeve of OLBG.com said: "Through sponsoring the top tier of mares National Hunt races and developing the Mares' Road to Cheltenham, we aim to help create opportunities that allow quality fillies and mares to demonstrate their ability on the racecourse before going to the paddocks.
"I hope we will have support in getting this message out to the people who can make a difference."
Other runners declared in the OLBG.com Mares' Hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday are Doyly Carte (trained by Donald McCain), Alasi (Paul Webber), Cockney Sparrow (John Quinn), Exclusive Dancer (George Moore), Ixora (Jamie Snowden), Prima Porta (Evan Williams) and Tara Rose (Nigel Twiston-Davies).

Source: Racing Post

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