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McCoy Contractors County Hurdle

14:10 Cheltenham Festival

2022-03-18

Winner: £56270

Runners: 26

Going: Good To Soft

No. of hurdles: 8

Distance: 2m0f179y

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The McCoy Contractors County Hurdle is a fiercely competitive handicap hurdle run over 2m1f as the second race on day four of the Cheltenham Festival. Until a change in the running order in 2009 it was staged as the final race of the festival and was known as the getting-out stakes, as it offered punters a final change to find a winner. It has witnessed some major public gambles over the years. Check the County Hurdle runners and riders ahead of the race and place your bets by clicking the odds buttons.

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9(0)
120-20
silk
Cask Mate

-

J: Denis O'Regan
T: Noel Meade
9
11-2
142
153
Grade 1 novice hurdle runner-up last season and respectable second in Grade 2 at Down Royal in October, albeit no match for Tuesday's Champion Hurdle third Zanahiyr; however, he was well beaten in mid-division in the Liffey Handicap at Leopardstown last month and it might be best to look elsewhere.
5(0)
-43557
silk
Felix Desjy

-

J: Jack Kennedy
T: Gordon Elliott
9
11-3
143
155
Grade 1 novice hurdle winner in 2019 and he landed a Grade 2 novice chase in November 2020; showed some spark as recently as autumn last year but three lesser runs followed and he arrives with something to prove.
19(0)
-24011
silk
Cormier

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J: Sean Quinlan
T: Brian Ellison
6
10-13
134
154
Won over C&D (good) in January and followed up in the Morebattle at Kelso (2m, soft) 13 days ago; faces a tougher assignment today under a 5lb penalty and further improvement is needed, but this thriving hold-up performer may have more left in the locker and he's an each-way candidate.
21(0)
-020P0
silk
Eclair De Beaufeu

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J: Jordan Gainford
T: Gordon Elliott
8
10-10
136
160
Well below his best on his last three starts and turns up with something to prove, but he's run really well on all three visits to the Cheltenham Festival and is now 3lb lower than when fourth in this race last year (good to soft); can't be ruled out.
13(0)
112/15
silk
West Cork

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J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
8
11-1
141
155
Returned from a long absence to win the Greatwood here (2m, good) in November and suffered an overreach when only fifth at Ascot the following month; this lightly raced 8yo could still be ahead of the handicapper and his trainer has won three of the last six runnings; has won on soft; major player.
25(0)
1-3253
silk
Stepney Causeway

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J: Jack Andrews
T: Dan Skelton
5
10-8
134
155
Won four novice hurdles in a row from the front last spring (1m7f-2m2f, good/good to soft) and today's return to hurdles could suit, with things having not gone to plan over fences the last twice; only five and he's not written off in first-time cheekpieces.
14(0)
1255-0
silk
Irascible

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J: B J Cooper
T: Henry De Bromhead
7
11-1
141
157
Lightly raced 7yo who showed promise in Grade 1 novices last season and may have needed last month's belated reappearance run in a Fairyhouse handicap; with a leading trainer and it's too soon to write him off, but his claims are hardly compelling on the back of that latest performance.
23(0)
9-2203
silk
Bua Boy

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J: D G Hogan
T: Denis Gerard Hogan
7
10-9
135
154
Runner-up in big fields at Galway (2m, good) and Listowel (2m, good to yielding) in the first part of the season but well beaten in the Greatwood here in November and there was no return to peak form at Leopardstown 12 days ago; others are preferred.
7(0)
412233
silk
Faivoir

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J: Bridget Andrews
T: Dan Skelton
7
11-3
143
157
Won a good-ground 2m4f novice here last April and he was a creditable third to Cormier off this mark at Kelso (2m, soft) 13 days ago; however, it seems likely he'll come up short in this hotter race.
3(0)
-25140
silk
Tritonic

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J: A P Heskin
T: Alan King
5
11-5
145
159
Respectable fifth in the Greatwood here (2m, good) in November and won a quality handicap at Ascot (1m7f, good to soft) in December; down the field in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury (2m, good to soft) in February last time out, however, and others have more pressing claims.
12(0)
112435
silk
Farout

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J: Brian Hayes
T: W P Mullins
5
11-2
142
151
Tailed off in Grade 1 novice last month but he was previously an encouraging third in Grade 1 novice at Leopardstown (2m, yielding to soft) in December, when he kept on nicely after being outpaced; the manner of that penultimate run hints that he could prove well suited by a big-field handicap scenario and he's not discounted for his top Irish yard.
6(0)
912173
silk
Dysart Diamond

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J: Jack Foley
T: W P Mullins
7
11-3
143
155
Well beaten in last year's Coral Cup and below best the last twice (on yielding to soft then soft to heavy); however, she showed improved form in the autumn when winning a handicap and Listed mares' race (both 2m, good to yielding) and she's no forlorn hope if the ground dries out.
4(0)
4-F250
silk
Ballyadam

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J: Aidan Coleman
T: Henry De Bromhead
7
11-4
144
157
Won a Grade 1 novice hurdle last season and 24l second in the Supreme Novices' here last March, when making mistakes; of interest on those peak efforts but he's failed to live up to that promise since and was tailed off in the Liffey Handicap at Leopardstown last month.
1(0)
-20001
silk
Call Me Lyreen

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J: Mr R James
T: Gordon Elliott
6
11-12
152
151
Returned to form when winning the 27-runner Liffey Handicap at Leopardstown (2m, yielding to soft) last month; needs a career best to defy top weight today but he's a lightly raced 6yo whose strong finish last time suggests he could have more left in the tank.
8(0)
211513
silk
First Street

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J: Nico de Boinville
T: Nicky Henderson
5
11-2
142
160
Made it 3-4 over hurdles with comfortable win on handicap debut at Kempton in January; good third in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury subsequently; needs something extra today but he's an unexposed 5yo who is in top hands, so could have more to offer; has won on good and soft ground.
20(0)
50-4P1
silk
Gua Du Large

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J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry De Bromhead
6
10-11
137
153
Pulled up in October (2m, soft) but was a different proposition back on better ground in a first-time tongue-tie (retained) at Fairyhouse (2m, good) in November last time out, finishing first of 18; lightly raced and his claims will be boosted if the ground dries out.
11(0)
4-3149
silk
Jesse Evans

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J: Sean Flanagan
T: Noel Meade
6
11-2
142
155
Merely midfield in the Greatwood here (favourite) in November and off since; he's better than that, however, and the way he kept on for fourth in the Galway Hurdle (2m, good) in July, having been wide into the straight, suggests this test could be ideal if he's back on song; has won on yielding.
18(0)
-13111
silk
Top Bandit

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J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott
6
10-13
139
152
Won a maiden hurdle here (2m, good) in October and added novice wins at Punchestown (2m, yielding) the next twice; thrown in at the deep end on today's handicap debut but his top Irish trainer has targeted him at this race and he's an unexposed 6yo who has the potential to be better than his mark.
15(0)
2-F1
silk
State Man

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J: Paul Townend
T: W P Mullins
5
11-1
141
151
Runner-up on sole French start (1m7f, very soft) and was bang there when falling two out on stable debut at Leopardstown (2m, soft) in December; made amends with easy win at 1-7 in Limerick maiden (2m, soft) last month; today's race is an entirely different proposition but he's a very lightly raced 5yo who could be anything and Willie Mullins has a fine record in this race.
22(0)
26-22
silk
Tax For Max

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J: Sean O'Keeffe
T: W P Mullins
5
10-9
135
153
Not obviously well treated judged on his four hurdle runs last February-July, when difficult to settle, and he's returning from an absence; however, he's been gelded since his last run which could make him more amenable, and he retains potential in this code having been fifth in a German Group 1 on the Flat in November 2020; intriguing contender for top Irish trainer whose recent wins in this include Arctic Fire in 2017 after an even longer layoff.
16(0)
3-2123
silk
Colonel Mustard

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J: Conor Orr
T: Mrs Lorna Fowler
7
11-0
140
158
Has run five times in the last 12 months, when placed in four Graded novice hurdles as well as winning a maiden hurdle at Galway in October; finished behind Jonbon and Sir Gerhard the last twice and might not be far away now he's in his first handicap.
24(0)
112217
silk
Broomfield Burg

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J: Jonjo O'Neill Jr
T: Nicky Henderson
6
10-8
134
157
Only seventh in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury (2m, good to soft) last month but that wasn't a bad run and this headstrong sort may be seen to better effect today if getting a red-hot gallop, which will help him settle; ran well here in December and this lightly raced 6yo is not ruled out.
17(0)
P27291
silk
Suprise Package

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J: Kevin Sexton
T: Peter Fahey
6
11-0
135
160
Had been looking exposed but this 6yo found a jolt of improvement when bounding clear in the Imperial Cup at Sandown (2m, soft) on Saturday; a 5lb penalty may well not prevent a follow-up, even in this tougher race, if he reproduces that form; yard won this last year.
10(0)
-11152
silk
I Like To Move It

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J: Sam Twiston-Davies
T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
5
11-2
142
158
Completed a hat-trick when landing three-runner Grade 2 novice here (2m, good) in November; back on track with short-head second on handicap debut in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury (2m, good to soft) last month; 4lb higher in an even tougher race today but he's only five and is progressive.
26(0)
-21421
silk
Tempo Chapter Two

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J: Danny Mullins
T: W P Mullins
6
10-8
134
152
Good-ground bumper winner who got off the mark over hurdles at the fourth attempt in a Fairyhouse novice (2m, soft) last month; lightly raced and open to further improvement for his leading Irish trainer, but he certainly needs to step forward today and also jump better than last time.
2(0)
11124
silk
My Mate Mozzie

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J: Kieren Buckley
T: Gavin Cromwell
6
11-6
146
149
Tailed off in Grade 1 at Leopardstown last month when perhaps the yielding to soft going didn't suit, so Wednesday's rain is a concern; however, he has potential off this mark based on his earlier good-ground 2m novice form, namely a Grade 3 win at Navan and a Grade 1 near-miss at Fairyhouse; there's drying weather forecast and he could have a part to play.

RACING POST TIP

circle_v2
silk
Suprise Package
The unexposed Irish-trained handicap newcomers State Man and Top Bandit could be ahead of their marks but SUPRISE PACKAGE is undoubtedly well treated under a 5lb penalty for Saturday's dominant victory in the Imperial Cup, and Peter Fahey and Kevin Sexton can win this for the second year running having struck with Belfast Banter last March. From a punting perspective the second-best option could be an each-way wager on Tax For Max. He's returning from an absence and is yet to set the world alight over hurdles, but a gelding operation since his last run could prove to be key and he had useful Group-race form on the Flat in Germany. Greatwood winner West Cork is another to consider, while Eclair De Beaufeu needs to stage a revival but is an interesting each-way contender given his previous Festival form.

Verdict

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PREVIOUS WINNERS

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KEY TRENDS AND STATS

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WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR

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