The Mares Hurdle (4:40pm) is a Grade 2 hurdle run over run over two miles and about four and a half furlongs. It is open to mares only, aged five and above.
The total prize fund is £85,000 and in 2015 the race will be run on Tuesday, March 10.
It was always Cheltenham’s intention, assuming the introduction of a four day Festival was a success, to have a seventh race on Gold Cup day from 2008.
Discussions with owners, trainers and breeders produced an extremely strong lobby for a mares’ only event and this view was endorsed by the Cheltenham Executive who came up with this race named in honour of the late David Nicholson, who was such a staunch supporter of British breeding.
The race also perfectly supplements the BHB Race Planning Committee’s new, stronger series of Pattern races for mares during the earlier part of the jump racing season.
2016 Vroum Vroum Mag
2015 Glens Melody
1. This year saw the fourth running of the Grade Two David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, named in memory of the legendary Cotswold-based jockey and trainer, who passed away in August, 2006.
2. “The Duke” enjoyed five successes at The Festival as a jockey between 1963 and 1973, but is best known for his 17 victories as a trainer, including successes in the Queen Mother Champion Chase (1994 & 1995 Viking Flagship), World Hurdle (Anzum 1999) and Gold Cup (1988 Charter Party).
3. Nicholson became the first trainer for more than 50 years to saddle three winners in a day at The Festival when Putty Road (Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle), Viking Flagship (Queen Mother Champion Chase) and Kadi (Byrne Group Plate) all triumphed on March 15, 1995.
2012 Mares' Hurdle Review
Irish wonder mare QUEVEGA duly landed a four-timer in the race at odds-on (4/7), landing some substantial bets in the process – she will back in 2014 in an attempt to get one up on the legendary Golden Miller as the only horse to win the same Cheltenham Festival race six times.
Held-up by Ruby Walsh in midfield off a slow pace, Quevega was always travelling well and took it up approaching the last, before stretching clear of the field.
In behind, the fight was on for the places with Kentford Grey Lady (14/1) winning the battle for second, with rank outsider Golden Sunbird (66/1) coming home in third under Robbie Power. There was always only to be one winner, though.
2011 David Nicholson Mares Hurdle Review
Quevega made it an incredible double for the Irish on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival when he cruised to a facile success in the 2011 David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle.
Willie Mullins’ mare made it a double on the day for jockey Ruby Walsh and scored by ten lengths after pulling clear on the bridle, rewarding favourite backers at 5/6.
Sparky May battled bravely for second, but she wasn’t in the same league as the winner and a delighted Ruby Walsh explained: "I thought we were a gallop short this year, but she certainly won very easily.
"Ruby loves her and they fire off one another. He rode her with such confidence.
"We entered her in other races but why look for something else when there is a race in Cheltenham you'll be favourite for?
2010 David Nicholson Mares Hurdle Review
Quevega proved herself to be the Queen of Prestbury Park by registering back to back wins in the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle.
Always travelling well, the six year old made smooth progress to track the leaders three out before taking it up well before the last and storming clear up the hill to win comfortably. In the process, she overcame a long absence from the track as the injury she suffered at Auteuil on her previous start had kept her of the course since last May. Credit, therefore, has to go to her trainer, Willie Mullins, for bringing her back in such great condition.
A hat-trick of wins is surely hers for the taking next season, unless connections opt, instead, to take on the boys either in the Champion Hurdle, or even possibly the World Hurdle.
Caroles Legacy has been in great nick over fences this season and she translated that form to hurdles here to claim second a marked improvement on her disappointing effort in this contest last season.
Going into the race, the main danger to the winner appeared to be Voler La Vedette indeed, some people had touted her as a possible Champion Hurdle contender earlier in the season but she could manage only third.
She seemed to be going as well as Quevega three out, but couldn't match the winners acceleration and there appeared to be no excuses, although she may have preferred softer ground.
By contrast, Amber Brook and Easter Legend (fourth and fifth respectively) both relished the better ground, and ran well as a result. Both are probably better, however, over further.
Last years third, Aura About You, hadnt run this season and having travelled well, the lack of an outing told and she faded to finish seventh.
2009 David Nicholson Mares Hurdle Review
The second running of this mares only contest produced an outstanding winner in the shape of Willie Mullins’ QUEVEGA.
Well touted before the contest, she went into the race a short priced favourite, but never gave her supporters a moments worry – taking it up after the second last and pulling right away to win by 14 lengths.
Connections will now have to decide whether to stick to this level next season or have a crack at the Champion Hurdle. If they decide to come back here, it is very hard to see her being beaten as she looks in a different league to the other mares around.
United, who was fourth in the 2007 World Hurdle, probably wasn’t suited by the drop back in trip here and so did remarkably well to finish second. She has returned in great form after a long layoff and will continue to pay her way.
Aura About You caught the eye for much of the race, travelling as well as anything bar the winner. She was coming back at the runner up on the run in having been headed by that rival at the second last. She should have a bright future as better ground would probably suit and she has the scope to jump a fence in time.
Over Sixty (fourth) and Gaspara (fifth) were right there in the battle for the minor placings. This was an improved effort from the latter as she has struggled since winning the Fred Winter so impressively at the Festival two years ago.
2008 David Nicholson Mares Hurdle Review
The inaugural running of this mares’ only race produced a shock result with WHITEOAK eventually running out the 20-1 winner in a thrilling finish.
Donald McCain’s five year old was always travelling well throughout the 2½ mile contest and she quickened up really nicely when asked to go and win her race turning for home. She clearly relished the step up in trip here and her two mile speed proved crucial in the end.
However, the result wasn’t without drama, as the winner started to idle badly on the run in and, under a power packed ride from Tony McCoy, Refinement actually headed Whiteoak in the dying strides, only for the winner to get back up in the shadow of the post.
With age on her side, Whiteoak will surely be back for more next season.
Refinement has always been a bit quirky and she appeared to throw this race away. She’s never been a fluent hurdler, but it is difficult to be too critical of a horse who has appeared at each of the last five Festivals. She’s certainly given her connections plenty of fun over the years and McCoy has always got the best out of her. However, this trip is possibly on the short side for the nine year old nowadays.
Chomba Womba (third) was all the rage with punters before the off and she held every chance swinging the final corner, but seemed to be outstayed by the first two.
There was a gap back to Gaspara, last year's Fred Winter Hurdle winner, in fourth. After being swamped early in the straight, she was battling back up the run-in, and she is another who needs further.
Theatre Girl ran her usual game race in fifth but just wasn’t quite good enough on the day, whilst course specialist Silver Charmer ran her heart out in sixth to register a lifetime’s best at the age of nine.
The ground wasn’t soft enough for Labelthou, whilst Sweet Kiln was the big disappointment of the race. She was struggling from four out and dropped right away to only beat one home.