1pt win Brandy Love 8/1, 1pt win Love Envoi 9/1, 16:10 Cheltenham, Tuesday

2m4f (2m3f200y) (Old) Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle) (Grade 1) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4yo+)

Final decs are in and soft ground is all but guaranteed for day one of the Cheltenham Festival. In probably the deepest Mares’ Hurdle we’ve seen, I’m against older hands Honeysuckle and Epatante whose very best days are behind them. Neither are certain stayers in the ground and nor is Echoes In Rain. Last year’s winner Marie’s Rock is rock solid over track, trip and ground and is a very fair price as 3/1 favourite. Don’t let me put you off those odds, but I prefer chancing the younger legs of both 7yos BRANDY LOVE and LOVE ENVOI. I find it hard to find a reason to back one and not the other, so rather than play each-way I’ll be backing both. Love Envoi has only ever been beaten once – after a hard season by Brandy Love on quicker going than she likes – and will relish conditions. She’s extremely consistent, loves the track and has to have a massive chance after a flawless season so far. Given Brandy Love is the only horse to have beaten her, she has to be in my staking plan and remains a mare full of potential. She’s got a big reputation in her yard and connections aren’t concerned by an underwhelming reappearance at a right handed track she wouldn’t have liked. It was plainly obvious she needed the run and we know from last year she wants to go left handed. At 8/1 I’m very keen as she could be top class.

1pt win Brandy Love 8/1, 1pt win Love Envoi 9/1, 16:10 Cheltenham, Tuesday

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