OLBG, sponsor of a series of mares’ races designed to offer a crucial build-up to National Hunt fillies and mares en route to the OLBG David Nicholson Mares’ Hurlde at the Cheltenham Festival, has announced backing of a further two contests in January and February.
Ascot will stage the Grade 2 OLBG.com Warfield Mares’ Hurdle on Saturday, January 18, followed by the OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle at Warwick on Saturday, February 8.
Quevega is currently the one all mares have to beat at Cheltenham, with the lightly campaigned daughter of Robin Des Champs once more being aimed at the mares’ showpiece at the Festival, a race she has won for a record five consecutive years.
Last season’s OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle at Warwick was won by Simon Munir’s Ma Filleule, who held off Swincombe Flame, subsequently third in a 19-strong field at Cheltenham behind Quevega and fellow French-bred Sirene d’Ainay.
The £20,000 Listed event is run over 2m5f while Ascot’s three-mile OLBG.com Warfield Hurdle is worth £40,000. Recent winners of the latter include Spark May (2011), who was then runner-up to Quevega at the Cheltenham Festival later in the same season.
“Sponsoring the top tier of mares’ races and developing the Mares’ Road to Cheltenham helps to create opportunities for quality fillies and mares to demonstrate their ability on the racecourse before going to the paddocks,” said Stefanie Reeve, PR Manager for OLBG.com. “We are thrilled to be supporting something so fundamental to the future of British National Hunt horseracing.”
In 2014, a change to the running order at the Cheltenham Festival will enable the £85,000 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle to be shown live on Channel 4 Racing.