- 1:30 Supreme Novices Hurdle
- 2:10 Arkle Chase
- 2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase
- 3:30 Champion Hurdle
- 4:10 Mares Hurdle
- 4:50 National Hunt Chase Cup
- 5:30 Close Brothers Novices Chase
- 1:30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle
- 2:10 RSA Chase
- 2:50 Coral Cup
- 3:30 Queen Mthr Champion Chase
- 4:10 Cross Country Chase
- 4:50 Fred Winter H'Cap Hurdle
- 5:30 Champion Bumper
- 1:30 JLT Novices Chase
- 2:10 Pertemps Final Hurdle
- 2:50 Ryanair Chase
- 3:30 Stayers Hurdle
- 4:10 Brown Advisory Plate
- 4:50 Mares Novices Hurdle
- 5:30 Kim Muir Chase Cup
2019 County Handicap Hurdle Preview & Tips - 2.10pm Cheltenham
2019 PREVIEW DUE by MARCH 5th-10th
Irish trainer Willie Mullins has won the County Hurdle four times since 2010 including twelve months ago with the classy Arctic Fire who shouldered 11st 12lbs to victory. The yard have had plenty of placed horses too and is the obvious place to start the preview.
The highest rated Mullins runner is Bleu Et Rouge on 154, which is a similar mark to Arctic Fire last year. The JP McManus owned 7yo ran a cracker last time out to be second in the Betfair Hurdle behind Kalashnikov at Newbury. The pair we well clear of the rest suggesting he was a fair bit ahead of the handicapper. Time will tell if he has missed the boat as he has been put up 8lbs since.
Prior to the Newbury run he was fourth to Hunters Call at Ascot in another competitive handicap so the hustle and bustle of this race wont bother him in the slightest.
Mullins has five runners in total and apart from Bleu Et Rouge has a leading chance with Sandsend. He's an unexposed 5yo with just two hurdle races since coming over from France to his name. He started with a third at Limerick and then improved to beat Forge Meadow in a Grade 3 contest at Naas. He gets in here with a mark of 145 and that could be a very lenient figure.
Other runners from the stable are Meri Devie, Lagostovegas and Whiskey Sour. Of that trio Whiskey Sour is the one of interest, he won his first two starts and then was 4th to Samcro, beaten 13 lengths. His mark of 141 looks pretty fair.
Joseph O’Brien’s Ivanovich Gorbatov has a decent record at the Festival, he won the Triumph Hurdle two years ago and was a creditable 6th here last year in this contest. He’s a couple of pounds lower now and it would be foolish to write him off just yet despite a patchy season so far. He was probaly hoping for better ground at this time of year but although he wont get that he does seem to be a spring horse.
Gordon Elliott had plenty of entries for this contest and his main hope is with the Gigginstown owned Duca De Thaix. The 5yo has only had four starts over hurdles and one of those was in France. He managed to win a Grade 3 contest at Limerick on his second start for the yard and then last time out was well beaten by Sandsend at Naas. He has a nice weight here and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he could improve on his current mark.
Ben Dundee has improved this season but runs here 19lbs higher than when he won at Punchestown back in October. That makes life very difficult for him while Brelade, the third Elliott runner reverys back to hurdles after an unsuccessful spell chasing. He was 6th in the Neptune last year so not without a chance on his best form.
Nicky Henderson it has to be said has a terrible record in the County Hurdle, for whatever reason he just cant seem to land a blow in this contest. Maybe his horses arrive badly handicapped after winning earlier races?
He has Jenkins in the line up this time round, he's exactly the type who has turned up here before but has ultimately paid for a decent season. This one has won twice and gone up a stone in the weights and that makes life difficult for now.
Last years Fred Winter winner Flying Tiger could go well for trainer Nick Williams, he has been running well all season without any reward and has been flirting with graded company too. He won the Fred Winter off 134 and is just 6lbs higher now so if the course and the time of year bring about a bit of improvement he could easily bounce back to form.
Of the others it may pay to have a look at A Hare Breath trained by the enthusiastic young trainer Ben Paulling. He returned to hurdles after finishing 7th behind Altior in the Arkle last March. On his first run for six months he came out and won a Listed handicap at Sandown off a mark of 139. He looked as though he some improvement in him that day and a 6lb rise shouldn’t inconvenience him at all. He’s a 10yo now but has only had nine starts over hurdles so I wouldn’t let that put me off.
One more to look at is Chesterfield trained by Seamus Mullins, once with John Ferguson. This 8yo is another one that would have prefered a better surface but comes here in decent form having won a jumpers bumper at Kempton earlier this month. He's slipped down the handicap this season so could come into calculations if he copes with the ground.
Punters Lounge Tip: Whiskey Sour EW 16/1 at Bet365 - Click Here To Bet
County Handicap Hurdle Runners
County H'cap Hurdle Trends
|9/10 Winners||Were rated between 132 and 139|
|10/10 Favourites||Did NOT win the race|
|9/10 Winners||Had ran at least 3 times that season|
|9/10 Winners||Started at double figure odds (10/1 or more)|
|8/10 Winners||Had not won more than two hurdle races|
|8/10 Winners||Aged 5 or 6 years old|
|7/10 Winners||Carried 11 stone or less|
|7/10 Winners||Were trained in Ireland|
|7/10 Winners||Were placed in the first 3 last time out|
|7/10 Winners||Had won a Class 3 Hurdle|
County H'cap Hurdle Previous Winners
|2018||Mohaayed||6||10-11||Bridget Andrews||Dan Skelton||33/1|
|2017||Arctic Fire||7||11-12||Paul Townend||Willie Mullins||20/1|
|2016||Superb Story||5||10-12||Harry Skelton||Dan Skelton||8/1|
|2015||Wicklow Brave||6||11-04||Paul Townend||Willie Mullins||25/1|
|2014||Lac Fontana||5||10-11||Daryl Jacob||Paul Nicholls||11/1|
|2013||Ted Veale||6||10-06||Bryan Cooper||Tony Martin||10/1|
|2012||Alderwood||8||11-01||Tony McCoy||Thomas Mullins||20/1|
|2011||Final Approach||5||10-12||Ruby Walsh||Willie Mullins||10/1|
|2010||Thousand Stars||6||10-05||Katie Walsh||Willie Mullins||20/1|
|2009||American Trilogy||5||11-00||Ruby Walsh||Paul Nicholls||20/1|
|2008||Silver Jaro||5||10-13||Noel Fehily||Tom Hogan||50/1|