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Tara Point is the main challenger to Annie Power in Mares’ Hurdle

| 09.02.2016

Even those with the shortest memories won’t have forgotten Annie Power’s fall in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, with this last-flight topple bringing down numerous accumulators and multiples.

Still, that won’t stop many lumping on the same horse again in the hope of gaining some redemption and she is currently 8/11 to win the Mares’ Hurdle at the second time of asking.

However, the eight-year-old hasn’t been seen since her Festival blunder and it is only assumed that she will return to her best after a heavy fall and lengthy absence.

With this in mind, there is plenty of each-way value behind the odds-on favourite in the Mares’ Hurdle betting and the horse that jumps out as offering solid value at this stage is Tara Point.

The absence of Paul Nicholls’ mare dates back even longer than that of Annie Power, with her last run coming in December 2014 when successful in a Listed contest at Taunton over 2m.

She was still green that day, but surged clear to win quite comfortably, with The Govaness among those in behind in fourth, seven lengths adrift.

The Govaness is currently a shorter price in the Mares’ Hurdle betting.

The only blip on Tara Point’s four-race copybook was when third in a Grade 2 encounter at Sandown, when finishing within two lengths of Vyta Du Roc and Shantou Bob in a Neptune Novices’ Hurdle trial.

Not only was she taking on the boys, but she was also allowed to run too freely on a first attempt at 2m4f.

Trainer Paul Nicholls remains confident that Tara Point will go straight to Cheltenham and it is obviously a risk that she will be race-fit after 15 months off the track. She also has two stone to find on ratings with Annie Power.

However, Tara Point has shown plenty of tactical speed in the past, hails from a top yard who believe she can compete in the highest company and is open to any amount of improvement because of how unexposed she is after just four starts.

None of those at the head of the market can realistically go the pace with Annie Power, but with Tara Point, her hand hasn’t yet truly been shown.

She will have disappeared off the radars of many during her absence and at 20/1 she could be one of the biggest-priced winners of the entire Festival.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.