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County Hurdle Trends For The 2024 Cheltenham Festival

Gavin Beech for Bookies.com

Gavin Beech  | 11 mins

County Hurdle Trends For The 2024 Cheltenham Festival

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Cheltenham County Hurdle Trends

Race trends are the best place to start when looking for the winner of a tricky Cheltenham Festival handicap. So we've taken a look at the most important County Hurdle trends from the last 10 years, and used them to find you the best horses to follow when placing your punts with the best horse racing betting sites.

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The last 10 winners:

  • Had won no more than five hurdle races; eight won no more than three
  • Had won no more than two handicap hurdles, six winning none. Two had never run in one (Saint Roi and State Man)
  • Had won a hurdle race with a distance of 2m-2m1f
  • Had an average official rating of 140, with only three rated higher
  • Were aged 5-8; but eight were aged 5 or 6.

Nine of the last 10 winners:

  • Carried 11st 5lbs or less (exception Arctic Fire, 11st 12lb)
  • Had never won a Grade 1 race before (Arctic Fire)
  • Had run no more than four times that season, six had won (Belfast Banter had 10 runs)
  • Had never won at Cheltenham before (Lac Fontana)

Eight of the last 10 winners:

  • Had never won at Cheltenham before (Lac Fontana and Faivoir)
  • Finished in the top three last time out (Wicklow Brave and Faivoir pulled up)

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Key Trials in the last 10 years

The main trial over the past 20 years has been the Betfair Hurdle with five County Hurdle winners coming from there, including Faivoir last year.

Another to watch is the Grade 3 Imperial Cup at Sandown, the last Graded run of 2015 winner Whiskey Sour, and Arctic Fire, before placing in 2014.

Traditionally, the Grade B Ladbrokes Hurdle at Leopardstown was a terrific County Hurdle trial, producing three winners from 2010-2013, but it hasn't done well since then.

Trainer Trends

  • The last 12 winners were either trained in Ireland or in Britain by Paul Nicholls or Dan Skelton. Skelton has only saddled 13 runners but four of the last eight winners.
  • Willie Mullins has been responsible for four of the last 12 winners, and he even had the 1-2 for good measure in 2020.

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Jockey Trends

  • With trainer Dan Skelton doing so well, it's not surprising brother Harry Skelton has ridden two winners, and so has Bridget Andrews.
  • Paul Townend, first jockey for Willie Mullins, has ridden three winners.

How Did the Trends do Last Year?

Faivoir was not the top trends pick in 2023 but had strong claims owing to being trained by one of the race's top trainers Dan Skelton. He was a bit exposed with five hurdle wins. The majority of the previous 12 winners had achieved no more than two wins. He was also a Grade 2 winner, which is unusual, and he had won at Cheltenham before.

Despite all these clues for the handicapper, he was given a reprieve due to pulling up in the Betfair Hurdle last time out and dropped 4lbs in the handicap, giving him a rating of 134 and just 10st 7lbs to carry. He was 33/1, but every Dan Skelton runner in the County Hurdle warrants respect.

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Who Fits The Trends Best In 2024?

This handicap hurdle is notoriously tricky, but here are a few that fit the bill on trends and are worth taking a closer look at ahead of weights being released. Prime among them is the Dan Skelton-trained L'Eau Du Sud, who was second last time out in the Betfair Hurdle, after a poor return to action in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham. Coming from the race's top stable, the six-year-old ticks all the boxes, boasts bags of experience and has a perfect handicap rating of 135. He is expected to run a big race.

For Ireland, the Willie Mullins-trained Lisnagar Fortune stands out. He is a novice who has never run in handicaps, which is not the most conventional route but has been done. However, the six-year-old was beaten just a short head by Readin Tommy Wrong on his second-last start. That stablemate went on to win a Grade 1.

Nicky Henderson has been without a County Hurdle winner since 1997 but has a strong potential line up led by the Betfair Hurdle and Greatwood Hurdle winner Iberico Lord. Impose Toi is not without claims on trends either, 

Check out latest Cheltenham ante post odds.

2023 County Hurdle Result

2023 Mares' Hurdle Result

Position Name Price Trainer Jockey
1st Faivoir 33/1 Dan Skelton Bridget Andrews
2nd Pied Piper 12/1 Gordon Elliott Davy Russell
3rd Filey Bay 6/1 Emmett Mullins Mark Walsh
4th Sharjah 10/1 Willie Mullins Patrick Mullins

 

About the Author

Gavin Beech for Bookies.com
Gavin Beech
Gavin Beech has worked in the betting industry for almost 20 years and is an experienced sports betting writer and tipster. He has worked for MailOnline and the Racing Post.