Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase preview: Maire Banrigh hard to oppose at Huntington

Published on: January 23, 2020
Author: David Metcalf
This 2020 Lady Protectress Mares' Chase preview from Huntingdon includes Maire Banrigh

The ultra-progressive Maire Banrigh looks worth siding with to take the step up into Listed company in her stride in the extended 2m 3f Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase at Huntingdon on Friday (15:05).

Trained by Dan Skelton, this lightly-raced seven-year-old was a dual winner over hurdles who has taken her form to a new level this season since being sent chasing.

In the first of those in a novice handicap at Stratford, Maire Banrigh made all and jumped well under a welter burden of 12st 6lb to easily beat Song Of The Sky by 14 lengths off a mark of 122.

Not surprisingly, the assessor hit the daughter of King’s Theatre with a 15lb hike in the weights for that most taking debut success over the larger obstacles.

Maire Banrigh was then back in novice chase company and again made all to when fending off Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up Thomas Darby by a length at Warwick.

As she was only getting 2lb from a rival rated two stone superior over hurdles, it was a game effort which saw her put up another 4lb.

However, it was not enough to stop Maire Banrigh going in again at Doncaster last month where she made all to win unchallenged by 15 lengths.

The way in which she got the job done suggested that she was a graded performer masquerading as a handicapper, so she looks well worth a crack at this level after five wins.

Maire Banrigh is rated just 2lb below ratings topper Casablanca Mix, but receives a handy 4lb from that rival.

It makes her the one to beat. At evens with Bethard, she is thus a strong fancy to land the spoils en route to better things.

In-form Henderson’s Casablanca firmly in the Mix

The aforementioned Casablanca Mix will find this easier than when a well-beaten fourth last time out in a red-hot similar grade affair at Doncaster. She is feared most despite having to give weight all-round.

Trained by the in-form Nicky Henderson, who is operating at a strike rate of just over 26 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing, this eight-year-old was successful at this level back in July.

Casablanca Mix stayed on strongly to land the valuable Summer Plate Handicap Chase at Market Rasen by eight lengths from Royal Village.

She has since followed-up on seasonal reappearance in another Listed affair at Aintree. After racing on and off the bridle in the early stages, she drew clear to easily beat Holy Flight by 15 lengths.

Casablanca Mix then failed to live up to expectations last month when beaten 20 lengths by Lady Buttons in the Yorkshire Silver Vase.

That was arguably the most competitive mares’ chase ever staged, however.

This represents a return to calmer waters, so the daughter of Shirocco now commands the utmost respect judged on her efforts prior to the last one.

Nico De Boinville also gets great tune out of Casablanca Mix, so a bold bid to get back to winning ways looks assured.

She can be backed at 11/4 with Betway to do just that in the Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase.

Casablanca Mix looks the obvious one to take advantage should Maire Banrigh fail to live up to expectations.

Dalila Du Seuil can’t be totally discounted in Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase

Dalila Du Seuil finished 26 lengths behind Casablanca Mix when fifth in the Yorkshire Silver Vase, but that was her first start after an absence of 294 days.

She is entitled to strip fitter for it, then. This seven-year-old had some smart hurdles form in France when winning three times and finishing fourth in a Grade 1.

Those efforts saw her purchased by leading Irish owner JP McManus and sent to join trainer Harry Fry.

Connections wasted no time sending her over the larger obstacles, and there was lots to like about the way she got the job done at the first time of asking when landing a four-runner affair at Exeter.

Dalila De Seuil raced keenly in the early stages under Barry Geraghty and found herself four lengths down at the second last.

However, when shook-up and asked to close, the response was immediate. She was challenging strongly at the last when longtime leader Kalahari Queen blundered badly and almost unseated her rider.

The daughter of Bachir then only had to be pushed out to score by 4 1/2 lengths, while the manner in which she finished off suggested there was plenty of petrol left in the tank and she would’ve prevailed even if the runner-up had not made a mistake.

Dalila De Seuil then got hampered and fell at the second next time-up at Warwick, but is a lightly-raced sort who remains with potential going forward.

She is also rated just 3lb inferior to Maire Banrigh, so could be capable of outrunning her odds of 13/2 with SportNation.