• Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle



    Last 14 were either novices or second season hurdlers

    Only 2 course winners have won since 1991. Both were second season novices.

    Last 12 all rated between 128 and 139

    Only 3 winners since 1960 have carried over 11st 2lbs to victory

    All winners since 1993 had already run in a h'cap

    Last 11 all achieved their best RPR of at least 129 on a left handed track within their last three runs



    Race Distance - 2 miles and abt a furlong. Winner will be aged 5 or 6 yrs or else a novice or else placed in Boylesports/Betfair Hurdle. No more than second season over hurdles. If full handicap, will carry under 11st 1lb unless finished 1st or 2nd in a Class 1 Handicap Hurdle and is 10/1 or under. Will not carry over 11st 8lbs. Not more than 1lb out of the handicap. Will have had at least three previous runs this season or be trained by W Mullins. Do not fret if has ran more than 5 times this season. No more than 12 runs over hurdles. Will be rated between 128 and 139. Not blinkered unless P Nicholls trained. Either Irish or P Nicholls trained (includes training the trainer). Not a previous course winner unless called William H Bonney. If P Nicholls winner, has been beaten here in a hurdle. If Irish trained, check for recent Leopardstown form. Can win this under a penalty. May already have ran in a top hurdle race this season. Any price. Don't back a conditional who has yet to win at least Class 2 level. Has a best RPR of at least 129 on a left handed track. Career best RPR achieved within last three runs.


  • Evidence

    AGE 8 yr olds and above. 4 winners since ‘91 and only 5 since 1959 (2012 Alderwood won from 4 triers, '07 Pedrobob). 8 yr olds Pedrobob and '02 Rooster Booster last runs were to be placed in a Totesport/Betfair Hurdle. Alderwood was still a novice. Four ran last year, great performance by Fethard Player in 2nd. 2015 Two, best was 9th. In 2014 10 of the 28 that ran were aged 8 or older, again best finisher in 9th. 2013 - Manyriverstocross 25s 3rd as a 8 yr old and had been previously placed in a Betfair. Arcalis placed in 2010 as a 10 year old and a previous Festival winner. Only aged and placed horse in this year's Betfair liable to run is the check.      

    5 yr olds have won 10 of the last 18 from under 30% of total runners. 8 from 26 last year 1st and 4th. 12 from 25 in 2015, best 4th. First three home were 6 yr olds, 7 five yr olds from 28 in 2014 finished 1-2-4-5-6. 2013 5 ran, best Shadow Catcher in 4th. 2012 8 from 26, finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th. In 2011 Final Approach won as one of 6 five yr olds from 26 runners. No luck 2010 6 from 28 best Secret Dancer in 7th. '09 American Trilogy strolled home, 5 from 28. '08 Silver Jaro won, 4 qualifiers from 22 runners. Ivanovich Gorbatov, Voix Du Reve, Consul De Thaix, Diego Du Charmil.


    7 winning novices since '93 including the three from the last five (Lac Fontana and Alderwood at 139. Ted Veale 134 and the rest of the novices in those years not rated above 135). 3 tried last year best Wait for Me in fourth. 2015, 5 tried best Max Dynamite under Ruby in 4th rating 137. (that was when he was heard saying something(s) under his breath when Wicklow Brave jogged past).



    That means that the last 14 winners were 6 novices and 8 second season hurdlers.


    WEIGHT Only 3 since 1960 have carried over 11st 2 lb but having said that, 5 of last 19 carried over 11st to victory. Blowing Wind, Spirit Leader and Rooster Booster all started 10/1 or under. Blowing Wind came straight from Sandown's Imperial Cuy. The other two were 1st and 2nd in a Tote Gold Trophy. Alderwood at 20s 11st 1 lb was in a compressed handicap where bottom weight had 10st 8lbs. Bottom weight won it last year off 10st 12lbs 2015 bottom weight 11st. Stat becoming irrelevant.

    No winner has carried over 11st 8lbs since 1960. Diakali impressive in 4th 2014 with 11st 12lb. Only the second horse to be placed with over 11st 8 lbs since 1979. (Backed it up when beaten on the line by The New One in the Aintree Hurdle) Fethard Player 2nd last year off 11st 6lb.

    Last 12 rated between 128 and 139. Superb Story 138 17 from last 18 rated between 128 and 144. (Sporazene 151, twelve winners in the 130s). 128 to 144 would have taken out the top 11 runners last year but only the top 2 in 2015.


    Last 11 all achieved best RPR minimum of 129 on a left handed track. All achieved that within their last three runs.

    Difficult to win from more than 1lb out of the handicap. Lots have tried and failed to do so since Prince of Bermuda last achieved this feat in 1980. (none out of the handicap last nine years, ’07, 8 qualifiers, none placed).




    PRICE Superb Story 8s (and Pricewise), Wicklow Brave 25s, Lac Fontana was 11s. (Some got bigger, he said smugly). Ted Veale 10s, Final Approach was 12/1. Used to not cross the 16/1 barrier. However 2012 Alderwood, 20s, '08 Silver Jaro 33s, American Trilogy and Thousand Stars also both at 20s. Two favs and two joint favs in the last 17.


    Since '94 only Ted Veale, Master Tern and Silver Jaro have won this having been beaten favourite last time out. Best paying race in the Festival this century for backing beaten favs last time. Two from 31 have won - profit £31 for £1 stake. Silver Jaro at 50s profited from the Pyscho ride by P Carberry? (That's mischief now, remember Solwit, Bellvano, Very Wood, Nicanor and others). Sign of the times. No beaten favourites last time ran in the 2016 County Hurdle. You would nearly expect the same horses to race against each other all season in these types of races. Both Ted Veale and Silver Jaro were Irish trained.



    Irish trained winners - In 2015 13 from the 25 runners last year were Irish Trained. Filled the first 6 places. W Mullins 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th. However last year from 9, only Fethard Player finished in the first seven home. In 2014 only 2nd, 4th and 5th from 7 runners. 2013 Ted Veale from Tennis Cap (from 9 runners), 2012 Alderwood (8 runners), 2011 Final Approach (5 runners), 2010 Thousand Stars (6 runners), Silver Jaro '08 won from Psycho (7 runners), Pedrobob '07. Spirit Leader ’03 was first Irish trained winner since ’76. Also placed 2012 Sailors Warn and Plan A.. Seven winners in the last ten. Definitely a trend. Any wonder the numbers going across are increasing. Never hear much crying about being badly handicapped when the race is over. Any wonder Phil Smith hammers them now. All Irish trained (inc Sort It Out 2nd) bar Wicklow Brave had recent Leopardstwon Form. Not Fethard Player. Hidden from view since Down Royal in early November.

    BLINKERS, CHEEKPIECES etc One blinkered winner in last 18 (American Trilogy, his second run in blinkers). Eleven tried last year, including three first timers, best Fethard Player in the hood he always wears. Nine tried in 2015, best finisher 5th. A massive 12 from 28 wore headgear in 2014 (No, I don't know if that's a record) best finishers Arctic Fire 2nd and Diakali 4th both in hoods. 7 failed to win in 2013.


    Tony Mullins trained both Alderwood and Pedrobob. Pedrobob only a second season hurdler as an eight year old.




    Paul Nicholls most successful trainer ever in this (at the moment) with 4 wins in the last 12 and the only home trainer able to hold the Irish hordes at bay. ’04 Sporazene, ’06 Desert Quest, '09 American Trilogy and 2014 Lac Fontana. Also ’06 Pirate Flagship 4th ’07 Ouninpohja 2nd. '08 Imsingingtheblues, last of 22 coming around the corner, finished 7th. 2012 Edgardo Sol, 2nd at 25/1, also finished 6th in 2013. And Ruby is the most successful jockey ever with 4 wins. His finish on Final Approach lives long in the memory. Question - Which Nicholls winner did he not ride?



    23 of last 30 in first 4 on previous outing (Not '14, '12, '10 or '09).





    All since 1993 had already run in a handicap. Superb Story put away by the Skeltons since finishing second in the Greatwood. 4 of last 12 ran 'well' in the Totesport Trophy. Placed horses there were Movewiththetimes, Clyne and Song Light. Lac Fontana won the Cl2 Handicap which finishes the card on heltenham Trials day. Flaxen Flare, 5th here, had been 2nd in the Boylesports (now the Coral Hurdle). Ted Veale was 3rd in the Boylesports in 2013 before winning. Final Approach won Boylesports. Silver Jaro had been 3rd in it, two races before this. Thousand Stars unplaced in Boylesports in his year. In last years Boylesports Modem was 2nd but well down the field here. 2016 Henry Higgins Leopardstown winner well down the field here. 2017 Coral Hurdle Ice Cold Soul tidily from Tudor City and Golden Spear. What, you are suggesting a Gigginstown plot in a tatty handicap hurdle? Tut, tut.


    COURSE WINNERS - Lac Fontana became only the second horse after Master Tern (both second season novices) to win this as previous course winners since at least 1991. Both had won the same course handicap hurdle in January. William H Bonney won this January off 132. Not a second season novice.


    11 from the last 15 winners had no course placed form. Only 5 from last 18 had run at a previous Festival form. Best of those was Wicklow Brave 6th beaten 9 lengths by Vautour in the Supreme. Fair ish form?

    9 from the last 11 had no previous Festival Form.

    However 11 from last 15 had all been beaten here before in a hurdle (including last three) Ted Veale, Alderwood, Final Approach and Spirit Leader had not run here before).


    Maiden hurdle at Cheltenham in October usually run on good ground has had an interesting history. '10 King of the Night won easy in Oct 'still right there when fell 4 out' in Sir Des Champs's Festival win. '09 The Jigsaw Man won 4 after. In '07 race was won easy by Snap Tie who went on to finish 3rd in the Supreme Novices. 2012 winner Court Minstrel didn't run at festival but won G2 at Ayr in April. 2014 Lac Fontana did the double. Didnt work for Commissioned in 2015. Last season's winner Mister Miyagi finished 6th to Altior in the Supreme as a 7yr old beaten 14l. Fair ish form? This season in October Thomas Campbell beat Khezerabad both Henderson 4 yr olds.


    Skybet Supreme Novice Trial at Cheltenham has produced American Trilogy and Lac Fontana. Most likely runners from that might be Mirsaale, Keep In Line or Movewiththetimes.



    Imperial Cup (weekend before). 5 winners of that event since 1990 ran in the County. Moody Man and Blowing Wind won under a big weight and Carlito Brigante finished second. Floyd also did the double in 1985. Last two Pipe trained Imperial winners Gaspara and Ashkazar took the easier route with the 4 yr old handicap. '09 Dave's Dream 7/2 fav here and unplaced. '11 Alarazi unplaced favourite here. No luck in the next three. 2015 Ebony Express won at Sandown and then finished 19th behind Wicklow Brave who had refused to go a yard at Sandown at 9/1. 2016 Flying Angel 2nd in Imperial Cup then 2nd in Martin Pipe Conditionals. Matchbook reintroducing the big bonus in 2017.


    19 from last 22 had ran at least 4 times that season (not Superb Story, twice, Lac Fontana, 3 runs, Final Approach just the two). Wicklow Brave at least had started four races. 27 of the last 29 winners all had at least 3 previous runs that season (Superb and Final Approach). 15 of the last 21 had been out at least 5 times. I usually use the phrase 'battle hardened' here but I'm not sure that now refers to Wicklow Brave or recent winners. Get a h'cap mark and preserve it?

    All but 3 of last 21 between 5 and 16 total runs over hurdles. (Ted Veale and American T only 4). 10 from the last 11 no more than 12 runs over hurdles.


    13 from last 19 ran in the last 35 days (not those that came direct from the Boylesports or Trials day). 3 of the last 18 won carrying a penalty (from small numbers, none ran last year).


    WINNING CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS - In the last 25 only Katie Walsh (3) 2010, Jimmy Moffatt (3) on a famous win with Home Counties 1995, David Bridgewater (7) Winnie The Witch 1991. (The latter two winning for their fathers). 5 last year best David Mullins (3) on Fethard Player. 4 in 2015 best Shane Shortall (5), 3rd on QuickJack. 4 in 2014, all unplaced. 8 tried in 2013 best H Derham 6th on Edgardo Sol, 3 tried in 2012, H Derham best again in 2nd.



    David had already won a G1 Morgiana on Nichols Canyon, Katie had already won the 4 miler that week on Poker de Sivola, Harry Derham had won a G3 Greatwood Hurdle on Brampour. Knew their job.


    Maximum number of runners dropped from 28 to 26. Doesn't really help.


    With 26 runners most of the big bookies will be shamed into paying out on 5th place CORALS didnt last year. I ask you.



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Wealth Warning.  Any decisions made (or not) or the basis of any information in this site are the sole responsibility of the reader.  There is no obligation on me to follow my own advice (Gary). The Stats Proverb says 'Relevance Is In The Eye Of The Beholder.' I take no responsibility for (but am keen to hear of) any factual errors.  Previous years ‘stats on stats’ would suggest we may identify a decent priced winner from manageable groups every three or four races.  I tend to improve as a tipster as the week goes on, possibly too concerned on the Tuesday.  It is believed that Savello (2014 Grand Annual) took from Golden Chieftain (2013 3m hcap chase) the record for breaking the most stats in a race.  Stands now at 8.  Cole Harden equalised with 8 in the 2015 World Hurdle.  Remember, after you have cursed/laughed at me and given up totally on trends, they will come back to bite.  Always happens.  Usually on Gold Cup Day

Beware GO SEA - Groundless Optimism Syndrome Encouraged by Alcohol.  A Cotswold condition very common at this time of year.