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Guide to the
Cheltenham Festival

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County Hurdle 2019 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 15 March

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

FORM SILKS HORSE AGE ODDS
ENTRY JOCKEY & TRAINER WGT
0231-4714 jockey silks MOHAAYED
33 stars
7 11-12
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1 J: Bridget Andrews
T: Dan Skelton
Coped really well with the conditions when winning this race 12 months ago, albeit from 14 lb lower. Added another high-end handicap to his CV at Ascot in December before a laboured run at Haydock.
1111-3441 jockey silks WE HAVE A DREAM (FR)
33 stars
5 11-11
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2 J: Daryl Jacob
T: Nicky Henderson
Five from 5 upon arriving in Britain last season (including 2 Grade 1s) and made the most of a good opportunity in the Timeform Morebattle Hurdle. Tough environment to make handicap debut in.
4265-5333 jockey silks WESTERN RYDER (IRE)
33 stars
7 11-9
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3 J: Harry Teal
T: Warren Greatrex
Drawn a blank since landing a couple of novices early last season but he's posted 3 good efforts in defeat this term, third in a valuable Ascot handicap over Christmas. Low-key effort at Haydock.
1122-2 jockey silks MR ADJUDICATOR
33 stars
5 11-8
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4 J: P. Townend
T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Completed cross-code hat-trick at Leopardstown prior to runner-up efforts in the Triumph and the Champion 4-y-o Hurdle at Punchestown last term. Sound reappearance in November and off since.
2280-5692 jockey silks CH'TIBELLO (FR)
44 stars
8 11-5
BET
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5 J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Runner-up in 2 Grade 2 contests last winter and back to his best behind Midnight Shadow at Aintree in December. Since had a wind operation and yard's record in big-field handicaps is superb.
113F-1228 jockey silks LISP (IRE)
33 stars
5 11-4
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6 J: Wayne Hutchinson
T: Alan King
Big step forward when making a winning reappearance at Fontwell in November (17.7f). Excellent runner-up efforts next 2 starts and not judged too harshly on run in Betfair Hurdle at Ascot last time.
114342-7 jockey silks WHISKEY SOUR (IRE)
44 stars
6 11-3
BET
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7 J: R. Walsh
T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Third in this race (off 3 lb lower) last year and largely performed creditably under both codes to end 2018. Likely targeted at this so has to command serious respect given yard he represents.
P800/6-132 jockey silks LEONCAVALLO (IRE)
33 stars
7 11-3
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8 J: Sam Twiston-Davies
T: Dr Richard Newland
Out of sorts when well held in the 2017 Coral Cup but made a winning start for this yard at Ludlow in May. Excellent third in Galway Hurdle but absent since a disappointing chase bow in September.
373-71116 jockey silks MISTER FIZZ
11 stars
11 11-3
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9 J: Lorcan Williams
T: Miss Imogen Pickard
Right back to very best for Alex Hales this summer, registering a quick-fire hat-trick at up to 21.5f in August. Now back with former yard and this is a big ask on return now back in distance.
26-F54450 jockey silks MITCHOUKA (FR)
33 stars
5 11-1
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10 J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Failed to cut it as a chaser this season and didn't shape with much encouragement back over hurdles at Leopardstown last month. In top hands but looks weighted to the hilt, even if back on song.
14013/455 jockey silks PINGSHOU (IRE)
22 stars
9 11-1
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11 J: Robbie Power
T: Colin Tizzard
Smart novice hurdler in 2016/17 but it's very hard to know where we stand with him judged on 3 efforts this winter (first 2 over fences), Handicap debut in first-time headgear.
03-016132 jockey silks STERNRUBIN (GER)
33 stars
8 10-13
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12 J: Micheal Nolan
T: Philip Hobbs
Useful on Flat/over hurdles and reached similar level over fences with 2 wins late last year. Really good second at Taunton back hurdling last month but nudged up 2 lb in a much deeper race.
110-4111 jockey silks CROOKS PEAK
55 stars
6 10-11
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13 J: Richard Johnson
T: Philip Hobbs
Dual-bumper winner last term (including here). Failed to land the odds on hurdles bow but unbeaten since, value for extra for on handicap bow at Newbury a fortnight ago. Big shout under a penalty.
1/11F5-041 jockey silks CAPITAINE (FR)
33 stars
7 10-10
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14 J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
Impressive winner of 2 chases at the start of last season and clearly benefited from a wind operation when adding to tally over hurdles at Taunton last month. Task is to now back that run up.
516F0-722 jockey silks CUT THE MUSTARD (FR)
33 stars
7 10-10
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15 J: Noel Fehily
T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Gradually improved with each start this term, latest when second of 14 in handicap hurdle at Leopardstown in a first-time hood last month. Big-field scenario suits and he must go on the shortlist.
1-3233114 jockey silks ECLAIR DE BEAUFEU (FR)
33 stars
5 10-9
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16 J: J. W. Kennedy
T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Maiden/minor winner around the turn of the year and coped really well with big-field scenario when fourth on handicap debut at Leopardstown last month. Thorough test kept to 2m will suit.
411F2167 jockey silks DUE REWARD (IRE)
22 stars
6 10-9
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17 J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry de Bromhead, Ireland
Impressive when gaining third win of the campaign back in novice company at Punchestown in December but last month's seventh at Leopardstown suggests he's a little too high in the weights here.
15151194 jockey silks STORM RISING (IRE)
33 stars
6 10-8
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18 J: Charlie Hammond
T: Dr Richard Newland
Good advert for his yard, winning twice in the autumn (including in facile fashion over this C&D). Perhaps found the Greatwood coming too soon and more like it when fourth in the Imperial Cup.
1211/2115- jockey silks COUNTISTER (FR)
33 stars
7 10-6
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19 J: Barry Geraghty
T: Nicky Henderson
Grade 2 bumper winner in France and landed 2 novice hurdles for this yard last winter. Better than result when fifth in Dawn Run a year ago, and though absent since, she's in top hands.
1P-452103 jockey silks HIGH EXPECTATIONS (FR)
22 stars
8 10-6
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20 J: Denis O'Regan
T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Fit from the Flat and strong at the finish when successful at Sedgefield in September. Also shaped well when third from an unpromising position when last seen in December.
P3-3U112 jockey silks MONSIEUR LECOQ (FR)
44 stars
5 10-5
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21 J: Lizzie Kelly
T: Mrs Jane Williams
Firmly on the up now, landing a maiden/handicap around 2m over the winter and progressed again when runner-up in the Imperial Cup on Saturday. Effectively 3 lb lower, so he's interesting.
18-11422 jockey silks THISTLE DO NICELY (IRE)
33 stars
5 10-5
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22 J: Gavin Sheehan
T: Jamie Snowden
Fair in bumpers and hit the ground running over hurdles, winning a maiden/novice during the autumn. Better form when a neck second on handicap bow at Taunton but this is a different ask.
81-265722 jockey silks MAGIC DANCER
33 stars
7 10-3
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23 J: Richard Patrick
T: Kerry Lee
Much improved for new stable last term, winning 3 times, twice at this venue. Mixed bag from inflated mark this term and he's pitched into a deeper handicap now.
1112F005 jockey silks BREX DRAGO (ITY)
22 stars
7 10-2
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24 J: J. B. Kane
T: Gavin Patrick Cromwell, Ireland
Racked up a quick hat-trick in September. Even better form when second in Naas handicap in November but unable to continue the good work since, held back by mistakes at Doncaster.
1F0-93115 jockey silks AR MEST (FR)
33 stars
6 10-0
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25 J: Jamie Moore
T: Gary Moore
Improved again when following up Leicester handicap win at Newbury in January, overcoming mistakes. Limitations seemingly exposed when fifth in the Betfair Hurdle and this is tougher.
73123714 jockey silks CHIEFTAIN'S CHOICE (IRE)
11 stars
10 9-10
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26 J: Sam Coltherd
T: Kevin Frost
Change to forcing tactics worked the oracle when an all-the-way scorer at Doncaster in December. Shaped quite well back there a fortnight later but off since and 4 lb out of the weights here.

Analyst's Verdict

The assessor didn't have a lot to go on when allotting CROOKS PEAK's opening mark and he took full advantage at Newbury a fortnight ago. Given he was value for extra and promises to be suited by this big-field environment, the follow up under a 5 lb penalty is a distinct possibility. Whiskey Sour was third in this a year ago and has been aimed at this, while Monsieur Lecoq is going the right way.

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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, as of 2018.

Ruby Walsh is the jockey with the most wins, also with four – two of which were achieved in conjunction with the aforementioned W.P. 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 2019 FAQs

What is the distance of the County Hurdle?

2 miles and 179 yards

How many fences 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?

Handicap

What is the purse for the County Hurdle?

£95,000 (2018)

Who is the leading jockey in the County Hurdle?

Ruby Walsh

Who is the leading trainer in the County Hurdle?

Willie Mullins/Paul Nicholls

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.

Horse racing betting offers

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  • Grand National NRNB

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CHELTENHAM COUNTDOWN 2020

Days Hours Mins Secs

HORSE SEARCH

CHELTENHAM RACES 2019

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NEXT RACE SMART STATS

3 J. S. Bolger's number of winners in past 9 runnings. (saddles FEMINISTA)

LATEST RACING RESULTS