The Liberthine Mares’ Chase (sponsored name Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase) is the newest race at the Cheltenham Festival, established in 2021. The race has been added to Gold Cup Day and replaces the Novices’ Champion Chase that was held on Champion Day. As a result of this the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle moves from Ladies day to the vacant slot on day one and the Grand Annual Chase moves from the last day to Ladies day to fill in all the gaps.
The Mare’s Chase is run over the same distance as the race it replaces, 2 miles and 4 furlongs. The main reason this race has been created is to increase the number of elite races for female horses to help encourage owners to buy young fillies’ and thereby supporting the breeding industry as a whole. The Novices’ Chase was selected for removal as it is felt there are already enough opportunities for novices’ at Cheltenham.
Being a Grade 2 race and replacing a Listed race also means it increases the number of Grade races at the festival as whole helping to raise the prestige of the meeting further. Being a new race there is not much history to talk about yet, apart from the fact that it was a Willie Mullins trained horse, Colreevy, who won the inaugural race in 2021. That may seem predictable but it shows what a Cheltenham legend Mullins is, he finds a way into the history books of almost every single Festival race. Below we look at what we might expect from this race as it beds in over the coming years.
|Course||Grade||Fences||Distance (m)||Winner / Purse|
|New Course||Grade 2||17||2m 4f 127y (4140m)||£50,643 / £88,500|
Being a Gold Cup Day races means the Mares’ Chase is run on the new course. The number of fences to be jumped is 17 in the Grade 2 four mile four and a half furlong run.
The winning time on the first run last year was 5 minutes 16.25 seconds and there were ten runners.
There is not a lot to say about this race other than the fact it is new and designed to increase the number of mares’ races at the festival. It is the first mares’ race on Gold Cup Day and sits alongside the Mares’ Hurdle on Champion Day (Grade 1) and the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle on St Patrick’s Thursday (Grade 2).
The registered name of the race is the Liberthine Mares’ Chase named after the high class mare owned by Robert Waley-Cohen, the Cheltenham course chairman from 2011-2019.
Scheduled as the second to last race of the Festival it is expected that this race will draw the last of the crowds before people start to filter out before the last handicap race of the day. This means there is a lot of expectation on this race as the last grade race to be run at the most famous jump race meeting in the world.
The first running of the race in 2021 was a smooth affair on good to soft ground. It culminated in a battle to the line between Irish second favourite Colreevy, at 9/4, and French favourite Elimay. Of course, both of those horses were trained by Willie Mullins, I mean who else has the Cheltenham pedigree to judge a new race to perfection and hit a 1-2 finish on the first time of asking. It was the Paul Townend ridden Colreevy who pipped Elimay to the post to create a little nugget of history and prestige for this brand new race.
CBO Rating | 7/10
It is a little unfair of us to rate this race too early in it’s history but from its first outing it proved to be an exciting affair. Given the first ever race took place behind closed doors due to the unique circumstances in 2021 it will the 2022 race that really shows what the spectators think of the race.
Given the fact that Mullins won the inaugural race will also add to the vibe around this Mare’s Chase and you can expect he will be well up for winning it again next year. That is a great thing for the future of this race as any race with multiple Mullins horses in are sure to be competitive.
You can read more about the beginnings of this race on our news page about the new mares’ race.
There are those that will miss the Grand Annual Chase on Gold Cup Day. It is the oldest race at the festival founded in 1834 and many saw it’s place as second to last on the final day as fitting for it’s status.
It is ironic then that the oldest races still going at the Festival is replaced by the newest race. It’s not so bad though as the Annual Chase moves to Ladies Day and is still a firm fixture of the festival.
Change is often a good thing and the addition of the new mares’ race is hoped to spice up the meeting that has changed little since a fourth day was added in 2005.