• Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle


    Irish Trained have won six of the last eight, Willie Mullins with four.

    14 of the last 15 were either novices or second season hurdlers

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

    12 of last 13 all rated between 128 and 139

    All winners since 1994 had already run in a h'cap

    Last 12 all achieved their best RPR of at least 129 on a left handed track, 11 of those 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/previous County. 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. Not more than 1lb out of the handicap. Will have had at least three previous runs this season unless W Mullins. Between 4 and 17 previous runs over hurdles. Will be rated between 128 and 139 unless W Mullins. No headgear unless P Nicholls/W Mullins. Either Irish or P Nicholls trained (includes training the trainer). Not a previous course winner unless called Remiluc. 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. 5 winners since ‘91 and only 6 since 1959 (Last year Arctic Fire (8 Yrs) proved what a class act he is under a fine Paul Townend ride. 2012 Alderwood won from 4 triers, '07 Pedrobob). Arctic Fire's last run had been 418 days previous, 15 lengths second to Faugheen in an Irish Champion Hurdle. 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 in 2016, great performance by Fethard Player in 2nd. 2015 Two, best was 9th. In 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 horses in this year's Betfair are Remiluc, Moon Racer, Kayf Grace, Poppy Kay or Knockannuss.


    5 yr olds have won 10 of the last 19 from under 30% of total runners. 6 from 25 last year, best was Ivanovich Gorbatov in 6th. Backed down to 5/1fav at the off. 2016, 8 from 26 ran 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. '09 American Trilogy strolled home, 5 from 28. '08 Silver Jaro won, 4 qualifiers from 22 runners.


    NOVICES - 7 winning novices since '93 including three from the last six (Lac Fontana and Alderwood at 139. Ted Veale 134 and the rest of the novices in those years not rated above 135). 5 last year, best Air Horse One in 4th. 2016 3 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 under P Townend).


    That means that the last 15 winners were 6 novices and 8 second season hurdlers. Plus Arctic Fire who had placed in this before and a Champion Hurdle. 20/1 (Sounds so easy now. You knew, Gary.).


    WEIGHT - Only 4 since 1960 have carried over 11st 2 lb but having said that, 6 of last 20 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 Cup. 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 last year 10st 2lb, Bottom weight won it in 2016 off 10st 12lbs. 2015 bottom weight 11st. This stat becoming a little irrelevant.


    Arctic Fire at 11st 12lb first winner to carry 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 in 2016 carrying 11st 6lb.


    Arctic Fire's rating 158. Beat L'Ami Serge off 152. (Cheltenham Stats always die. Its just a matter of when) Previous 12 rated between 128 and 139. Superb Story 138 17 from last 19 rated between 128 and 144. (Fire 158, Sporazene 151, twelve winners in the 130s).


    Last 12 all achieved best RPR minimum of 129 on a left handed track. All bar Arctic Fire achieved that within their last three runs. His was when 11/2 lengths second to Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle.

    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 ten years, ’07, 8 qualifiers, none placed).


    PRICE - Arctic Fire 20s, Superb Story 8s (and Pricewise), Wicklow Brave 25s, Lac Fontana was 11s. 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 18. Last clear favourite to win Sporazene 7/1 in 2004.


    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 34 have won - profit £29 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). Three beaten favs ran last year. L'Ami Serge BF in 2nd had been caught up the run in by Agrapart in the New Years Day Relkeel hurdle. No BFs 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 - Last year Willie Mullins' Arctic Fire, 6 ran. In 2016 from 9 runners, only Fethard Player finished in the first seven home. In 2015 13 from the 25 runners 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. Eight winners in the last eleven. Definitely a trend. Any wonder the numbers going across are increasing. All Irish trained (inc Sort It Out 2nd) bar Arctic Fire and Wicklow Brave had recent Leopardstwon Form. Not Fethard Player. Hidden from view since Down Royal in early November.


    BLINKERS, CHEEKPIECES etc Arctic Fire wore his usual hood. Before him one blinkered winner in previous 18 (American Trilogy, his second run in blinkers). 5 others tried last year, all unplaced. Eleven went to post in 2016, 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.


    Willie Mullins has had 21 runners in the past 8. Four winners. Thousand Stars 20s, Final Approach 10s, Wicklow Brave 25s, Arctic Fire 20s. Also seconds with Arctic Fire 7s, Tennis Cap 11s and 4ths with Diakali 5s Max Dynamite 14s. Useful trainer. Never had a Festival h'cap winner over more than 2m 5f.


    Paul Nicholls used to be the man. 4 wins in the last 13 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 was a cracker.


    Tony Mullins (Willie's brother) trained both Alderwood 20s and Pedrobob. Pedrobob only a second season hurdler as an eight year old.


    24 of last 31 in first 4 on previous outing (Not '14, '12, '10 or '09)


    All since 1993 had already run in a handicap. Arctic Fire previously placed in this. Superb Story put away by the Skeltons since finishing second in the Greatwood. 4 of last 13 ran 'well' in the Totesport/Betfair Trophy. Placed horses there were check. Lac Fontana won the Cl2 Handicap which finishes the card on Cheltenham Trials day. Remiluc 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 unpl here. 2017 Coral Hurdle none of the first three home ran here. At the 2018 Dublin Festival Off You Go beat Deal D'estruval.


    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. Remiluc off 139 but not a second season novice. Arctic Fire had second twice in two Festivals.


    11 from the last 16 winners had no course placed form. Only 6 from last 19 had run at a previous Festival form. Arctic Fire by far the best course form of those.

    9 from the last 12 had no previous Festival Form.

    However 12 from last 16 had all been beaten here before in a hurdle (including last four) 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 races 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. 2016 winner Thomas Campbell has gone onto better things. Slate House


    Skybet Supreme Novice Trial at Cheltenham has produced American Trilogy and Lac Fontana. Most likely runners from that might be. Slate House beat Summerville Boy the Tolworth winner


    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 London Prize however didn't come here. RIP.


    19 from last 23 had ran at least 4 times that season (not Arctic Fire, not at all, Superb Story, twice, Lac Fontana, 3 runs, Final Approach just the two). Wicklow Brave at least had started four races. 27 of the last 23 winners all had at least 3 previous runs that season (Fire, Superb and Final Approach). 15 of the last 22 had been out at least 5 times. I usually use the phrase 'battle hardened' here but I'm not sure that now is correct.

    All 22 between 4 and 17 total runs over hurdles. (Arctic Fire 17, Ted Veale and American T only 4). 10 from the last 12 no more than 12 runs over hurdles.


    13 from last 20 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 two years).


    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). 7 last year, best finisher JJ Slevin (3) in 6th. 5 in 2016 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 Mullins 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.



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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).  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 worried 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.