Randox Health County Hurdle

The Randox Health County Hurdle takes place at 2.10pm on Day 4 (Friday) of the Cheltenham Festival. The race will be broadcast on ITV and Racing TV (RTV). It is a fiercely competitive handicap hurdle typically run at a frenetic gallop.

Irish trainers have fared well in the race in recent times, winning six of the last ten runnings through the likes of classy performers Thousand Stars, Wicklow Brave and Arctic Fire.

Length of race – The race is run over 2m1f.
Where to watch – ITV and RTV
When to watch – Friday, March 15 at 2.10pm.
Prize-money – Last year’s race was worth £100,00.
Course – The race is run on the New course.
Race type – The County Hurdle is a Grade 3 handicap hurdle.
Weights – Weights are allotted in relation to each horse’s individual handicap mark. The County Hurdle has a maximum field size of 26 runners.
Ages – Horses aged five and older are eligible to run in the County Hurdle.
Sponsor – Randox Health has sponsored the race since 2017.

 

Past ten winners:

 

Year Horse Previous form Age Price Trainer Jockey
2018 Mohaayed 3-1023 6 33-1 Dan Skelton Bridget Andrews
2017 Arctic Fire 2-1142- 8 20-1 Willie Mullins Paul Townend
2016 Superb Story 444-12 5 8-1 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton
2015 Wicklow Brave F-580P 6 25-1 Willie Mullins Paul Townend
2014 Lac Fontana 38-141 5 11-1 Paul Nicholls Daryl Jacob
2013 Ted Veale 11923 6 10-1 Tony Martin Bryan Cooper
2012 Alderwood 10120 8 20-1 Thomas Mullins Tony McCoy
2011 Final Approach 13-51 5 10-1 Willie Mullins Ruby Walsh
2010 Thousand Stars 40110 6 20-1 Willie Mullins Katie Walsh
2009 American Trilogy 1349 5 20-1 Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh

 

Race stats

  • Achieved career-best RPR of at least 129 on a left-handed track, 10/10
    Officially rated between 134 and 139, 9/10
    Carried no more than 11st 1lb, 8/10 (both exceptions trained by Willie Mullins)
    Ran no more than 12 times over hurdles, 8/10 (both exceptions trained by Willie Mullins)
    Aged five or six, 8/10
    No previous festival form, 7/10

Other factors

  • There have been five winning novices since 1996
  • Three winners ran in the (now) Ladbrokes Hurdle at Leopardstown, finishing 013, but only one ran in Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle (finished unplaced)
  • Paul Nicholls has had four winners, two seconds and a fourth since 2004
  • Ireland has won six of the last ten, including four for Willie Mullins
  • Ruby Walsh is the leading rider in the history of the County Hurdle with four wins. Walsh’s victories came aboard Sporazene (2004), Desert Quest (2006), American Trilogy (2009) and Final Approach (2011).
  • Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins have won the County Hurdle four times each. Nicholls trained Sporazene (2004), Desert Quest (2006), American Trilogy (2009) and Lac Fontana (2014) to win the race. The Mullins winners have all come in the last decade courtesy of Thousand Stars (2010), Final Approach (2011), Wicklow Brave (2015) and Arctic Fire (2017).

Key trials

Novice hurdlers or second-season hurdlers have won 15 of the last 16 runnings of the County Hurdle. Recent winners Mohaayed and Superb Story ran in the Greatwood Hurdle on Cheltenham’s Old course at the November meeting. Lac Fontana won in a handicap over this course-and-distance at the trials day meeting.
In Ireland, Ted Veale placed in a valuable two-mile handicap hurdle, which is now run at the Dublin Racing Festival. Final Approach and Thousand Stars also ran in the same race prior to Cheltenham.

What happened last year?

Mohaayed’s win under Bridget Andrews prompted emotional scenes after the finish line between the winning rider and partner Harry Skelton, who dead-heated in fifth. View the 2018 County Hurdle result and replay here.

Where can I get Cheltenham Festival tickets?

Cheltenham Festival tickets can be purchased from the official festival website here.

County Hurdle Tip

Western Ryder beat Lalor and Summerville Boy early in his novice hurdling career and this season he backed up a good fifth in the Greatwood with a staying-on third in the International. Four relatively quick runs seemed to take their toll at Haydock on his most recent start and he’s begun to look difficult to win with. However, talk of his being tripless is premature. Fundamentally, he requires a strong pace to run at, which is almost assured in the County Hurdle.
(James Norris)

Forecast
1. Western Ryder, 2. Getaway Trump, 3. Eclair De Beaufeu

View the racecard and place your bets here.