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County Hurdle 2020 Racecard

The County Handicap Hurdle falls on the Friday of the Cheltenham Festival, usually known as Gold Cup day. First run in 1920, it was traditionally the meeting’s curtain-closer. It is still run on the fourth and final day, but following a reshuffle of the schedule in 2009, it has been moved from being the last race, to being the second.

2:10

Friday 13 March

Distance: 16f 179y Age: 5yo + Prize: £100000 Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places)

FORM
ENTRY
SILK HORSE
JOCKEY & TRAINER
AGE
WGT
ODDS

1
jockey silks 1. ELDORADO ALLEN (FR)
J: Robbie Power
T: Colin Tizzard
6
11-12
Back from 13-month absence to finish second in Sandown handicap in January. Not in the same form when 9 lengths third in listed event back there early last month but could easily get back on up now.
33 stars

2
jockey silks 2. ARAMON (GER)
J: P. Townend
T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
7
11-11
Smart sort who was a fine 8½ lengths fifth of 9 to Honeysuckle in Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown last time. Should be very competitive off this mark now having first start in handicap.
44 stars

3
jockey silks 3. EMBITTERED (IRE)
J: J. J. Slevin
T: Joseph Patrick O'Brien, Ireland
6
11-8
Naas maiden win on hurdle debut in November and better form in defeat since, staying on for creditable 4 lengths sixth of 22 on Leopardstown handicap bow last time.
33 stars

4
jockey silks 4. CHRISTOPHER WOOD (IRE)
J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
5
11-7
Quickly made up into useful hurdler last term and back on track after 2 lesser runs to start this season when landing 2m Musselburgh handicap 24 days ago. May have an even bigger performance in him.
33 stars

5
jockey silks 5. STOLEN SILVER (FR)
J: Sam Twiston-Davies
T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
5
11-5
Tough and progressive hurdler who gained second win in Grade 2 at Haydock before good eighth off harsh mark in Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. Suited by stiff test at 2m so he's in the mix.
33 stars

6
jockey silks 6. SCARAMANGA (IRE)
J: Bryan Carver
T: Paul Nicholls
5
11-4
Largely progressive profile, winning cosily at Wincanton (good to soft) in December. Unsuited by heavy ground in valuable handicap at Ascot 16 days later. Warmed up for this with decent run on Flat.
44 stars

7
jockey silks 7. MOHAAYED
J: Bridget Andrews
T: Dan Skelton
8
11-4
2018 County hurdle winner who landed another big handicap at Ascot last winter. Largely operating below best since but back on a good mark and every chance this has been plan all along. Had wind op.
44 stars

8
jockey silks 8. PAKENS ROCK (IRE)
J: K. J. Brouder
T: Barry T. Murphy, Ireland
7
11-4
Looked better than ever when landing a handicap at Thurles (2m, good to soft) in January. However, not in same form when fifth in Naas Grade 2 since and his handicap mark isn't obviously generous.
22 stars

9
jockey silks 9. MOON OVER GERMANY (IRE)
J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry de Bromhead, Ireland
9
11-3
Smart chaser (won Aintree handicap last April). Unable to justify market support back hurdling at Leopardstown in December but did travel well long way and retains handicapping scope in this sphere.
33 stars

10
jockey silks 10. BUILDMEUPBUTTERCUP
J: D. E. Mullins
T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
6
11-3
Bordering on smart on the Flat. Couple of good efforts in competitive handicaps since reverting to hurdles but this strong-travelling mare doesn't always deliver that much off the bridle.
33 stars

11
jockey silks 11. ADJALI (GER)
J: Daryl Jacob
T: Nicky Henderson
5
11-2
Very useful juvenile last term, reaching frame in Grade 1s. Creditable reappearance sixth of 15 in Ascot listed handicap in November. Off again since but clearly capable when fresh. Has had wind op.
44 stars

12
jockey silks 12. ZANZA (IRE)
J: Sean Houlihan
T: Philip Hobbs
6
11-2
Won conditionals' handicap hurdle at Newbury in November and back at that level with a hood reapplied when under 2 lengths sixth of 24 in Betfair Hurdle there last month.
33 stars

13
jockey silks 13. TIGER TAP TAP (GER)
J: D. J. Mullins
T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
5
11-1
Naas and Clonmel winner at the turn of the year but no impact in a Leopardstown handicap at the beginning of February and well-held sixth in Naas Grade 2 since. Yard has stronger claims elsewhere.
22 stars

14
jockey silks 14. CIEL DE NEIGE (FR)
J: M. P. Walsh
T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
5
11-1
Third in Fred Winter at this meeting last year and posted another very good effort in a top handicap when second in Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month. Up 4 lb but likely has more offer.
55 stars

15
jockey silks 15. THATSY (FR)
J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
6
11-1
Off the mark over hurdles in Navan maiden in November and has bettered that form in a couple of big-field handicaps at Leopardstown since. Remains unexposed.
33 stars

16
jockey silks 16. OAKLEY (IRE)
J: Richard Johnson
T: Philip Hobbs
7
11-0
Pair of wins in novice campaign. Good placed efforts first 3 outings this term (including C&D) and ran close to form in Betfair at Newbury last month despite not being seen to best effect.
33 stars

17
jockey silks 17. BEAT THE JUDGE (IRE)
J: Joshua Moore
T: Gary Moore
5
11-0
Fairly useful hurdler but drawn a blank since debut win at Kempton in December 2018. Respectable sixth in Newbury listed handicap in November. Warmed up for this with a run on Flat last month.
22 stars

18
jockey silks 18. SAINT ROI (FR)
J: Barry Geraghty
T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
5
10-13
French recruit who struck at the second time of asking for new connections in Tramore maiden on New Year's Day. Hard to argue his opening mark looks generous but he is totally unexposed.
33 stars

19
jockey silks 19. LE LIGERIEN (FR)
J: Ben Jones
T: Philip Hobbs
7
10-13
Took form to a whole new level when justifying heavy support at Newbury in January and duly defied a penalty at Haydock 3 days later. Handicapper had his say but he remains of interest.
33 stars

20
jockey silks 20. ELUSIVE BELLE (IRE)
J: Mr Sam Waley-Cohen
T: Nicky Henderson
6
10-12
Dual novice hurdle winner who shaped well when third to Epatante in listed handicap at Newbury on reappearance. Another good effort when second at Kempton over Christmas. Respected.
44 stars

21
jockey silks 21. RATHHILL (IRE)
J: Nico de Boinville
T: Nicky Henderson
7
10-11
Debut winner in December 2018. Sent off at 6/5 for Tolworth 17 days later but could only finish fourth. Off 10 months, well held in handicap on return but still has time on side. Had wind surgery.
33 stars

22
jockey silks 22. YOU RAISED ME UP (IRE)
J: L. P. Dempsey
T: Martin Brassil, Ireland
7
10-11
Yet to win over hurdles but he made a very good start to life in handicaps when third in a big field at Leopardstown at the beginning of February. Potential for better still.
44 stars

23
jockey silks 23. MINELLA CHARMER (IRE)
J: Charlotte Jones
T: James Moffatt
9
10-11
Low-mileage hurdler who made light of 9-month absence to land 2m Haydock handicap in December but up 5 lb in a much deeper race now so chances are he'll be vulnerable.
22 stars

24
jockey silks 24. TIGER VOICE (FR)
J: Aidan Coleman
T: Henry de Bromhead, Ireland
5
10-10
Built on improved Tipperary second when landing Cork maiden in November but turned over at short odds at Punchestown next time and never landed a blow on Leopardstown handicap debut over Christmas.
22 stars

25
jockey silks 25. SIR VALENTINE (GER)
J: Jamie Bargary
T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
7
10-10
Useful on Flat and has taken well to hurdling on the back of a long absence, including reaching the frame in valuable handicaps at Ascot and Newbury last twice. Potential for better still.
44 stars

26
jockey silks 26. LETHAL STEPS
J: Denis O'Regan
T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
5
10-9
Winner twice in first half of season for Gordon Elliott. Had 2 runs in America for Richard Hendriks in the autumn and not obviously well treated ahead of first run back with former yard. Had wind op.
22 stars

Analyst's Verdict

Ultra competitive as usual but CIEL DE NIEGE has been threatening to land a big pot and can go one better than in the Betfair last month. Dan Skelton has won this 3 times in the last 4 years and 2018 winner Mohaayed looks to have been laid out for it again. The selection's stablemate Aramon and Sir Valentine are a few of many others who could go well.

The County Hurdle is a Grade 3 race open to horses aged five years and over, and like the preceding race on the Friday card, the Triumph Hurdle, it is raced on the New course, over a distance of just under 2 miles and 1 furlong, and features eight hurdles.

Being a handicap, horses competing in the County Hurdle are subject to a graded system of weights, according to form, age and sex.

In theory, this means a more level playing field and increased competition, allowing less accomplished horses a better chance than they might otherwise have.

The top weight is usually 11 stone 12 pounds, although the bottom weight can vary depending on the strength of the competitors.

As a Grade 3 handicap, the County Hurdle is of a more accessible standard than many of the elite races during the Festival, which makes it a popular race for stables of all sizes in their quest for a Festival win.

Consequently, it usually features in excess of 25 runners, with a record field of 30 going to post in 2005.

The large field also makes it a formidable race for bettors, albeit often a lucrative one for those lucky enough to pick a winner (being a handicap of more than 15 runners, bookies will also pay out on four places at a quarter of the odds, as standard).

Since the turn of the millennium, only one favourite and two joint-favourites have been victorious in the County Hurdle, during which time six horses have won at odds of 20/1 or greater.

Between 1995 and 2016, the race was known as the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle, in honour of the great Irish trainer who retired in 1994, having recorded a total of 23 Cheltenham Festival victories – though none of them came in this race.

Unusually for a race with such a long CV, that is not restricted to horses of a specific age, there have been no multiple winners of the County Hurdle in its entire 99-year history.

Its most famous winner this century is probably Rooster Booster Philip Hobbs’ popular grey gelding, who won in 2002, and went on to finish first and second respectively in the 2003 and 2004 renewals of the Champion Hurdle, all under jockey Richard Johnson .

The title of most successful trainer in the County Hurdle is jointly-held at present, and will likely be contested for a number of years yet, given both parties are still very much at large in the National Hunt sphere.

Willie Mullins , who trained Thousand Stars (2010), Final Approach (2011), Wicklow Brave (2015) and Arctic Fire (2017), and Paul Nicholls, who trained Sporazene (2004), Desert Quest ( 2006), American Trilogy (2009) and Lac Fontana (2014) both have four wins apiece. The 2019 success of Ch’tibello provided Dan Skelton with a third win in the race.

Ruby Walsh is the jockey with the most wins, also with four – two of which were achieved in conjunction with Wilie Mullins: Sporazene (2004), Desert Quest (2006), American Trilogy (2009) and Final Approach (2011).

Special mention should also be given to Jonjo O’Neill , who achieved the feat of winning the race both as a jockey, with Path of Peace (1982) and Jobroke (1986), and again as a trainer with Master Tern (2000).

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County Hurdle 2020 FAQs

What is the distance of the County Hurdle?

2 miles and 179 yards

How many obstacles are jumped in the County Hurdle?

8

What day of the festival is the County Hurdle?

Day 4

What time is the County Hurdle?

14:10

What weights are carried for the County Hurdle?

As it is a traditional National Hunt handicap hurdle, weights range from 11 st 12 lb for the top weight, to 10 st for the bottom weight.

What is the purse for the County Hurdle?

£100,000 (2020)

Who is the leading jockey in the County Hurdle?

Ruby Walsh

Who is the leading trainer in the County Hurdle?

Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls, with four wins apiece

Who won the County Hurdle?

You can check out our County Hurdle results page here to see a list of previous winners.

Where can I compare the odds for the County Hurdle?

Click the link to visit our County Hurdle Odds Comparison page.

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CHELTENHAM COUNTDOWN 2020

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