Huntingdon preview: Maire Banrigh aiming to book Cheltenham Festival ticket

Fri 24 Jan 2020

Get the inside track from connections of the leading players in the Listed Mares' Chase at Huntingdon on Friday which will be shown live on Racing TV at 3.05pm.

Dan Skelton hopes Maire Banrigh can book her ticket to the Cheltenham Festival as she takes a step up in class and trip in Friday’s Pertemps Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase at Huntingdon.

The eight-year-old will race over an extended two miles and three furlongs as she tries to maintain her unbeaten record over fences by claiming the biggest win of her career in the Listed prize.

Should Maire Banrigh continue her progression and make it four out of four over fences, an outing in the Arkle at the Festival could be on the cards.

Watch how Maire Banrigh defeated Thomas Darby at Warwick in November

Skelton said: “She has been in good form since her last run and hopefully this will be her last run before the Arkle.

“This race is a big deal itself though, as it is worth a lot of money. We are delighted with how she has been going over fences and hopefully she will keep going.

“We always had this race in mind after Doncaster and the step up in trip should be fine for her.

“I always thought she would be good over fences as she is a big, strong mare, but she has proved to be very good.”

Matt Sheppard hopes The Bay Birch can put up a bold show at Huntingdon on Friday (John Giles/PA Images)
Matt Sheppard hopes The Bay Birch can put up a bold show at Huntingdon on Friday (John Giles/PA Images)

Matt Sheppard expects The Bay Birch to make her presence felt stepped back up in trip having run over two miles last time.

He said: “We wanted to go for a fairly weak Listed race at Leicester, but unfortunately that was off and this looks quite a hot race.

“She is in excellent form though. If my mare was trained by someone with a bigger name, she would probably be nearly favourite.

“When she ran over three miles at Market Rasen, the ground was terrible and she didn’t get the trip.

“She wasn’t totally disgraced at Newbury and she was only beaten around 15 lengths at Cheltenham by a horse she was giving more than a stone to.”

The field is completed by the Nicky Henderson-trained Casablanca Mix and Dalila Du Seuil from the yard of Harry Fry.

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