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County Hurdle 2023 Trends

Gavin Beech for Bookies.com

Gavin Beech  | 8 mins

County Hurdle 2023 Trends

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Cheltenham County Hurdle Trends

The last 10 winners:

  • Had won no more than four hurdle races
  • 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

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, seven had won (Belfast Banter had 10 runs)
  • Last made the top three no more than three runs ago (Wicklow Brave)
  • Had never won at Cheltenham before (Lac Fontana)

Key Trials in the last 10 years

  • The main trial over the past 20 years has been the Betfair Hurdle with four County Hurdle winners coming from there.
  • 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 either in Ireland or in Britain by Paul Nicholls or Dan Skelton. Skelton has only saddled 12 runners, but has saddled three of the last seven winners.
  • Willie Mullins has been responsible for five of the last 12 winners and he even had the 1-2 for good measure in 2020.

Jockey Trends

  • With trainer Dan Skelton doing so well, it's not surprising brother Harry Skelton has ridden two winners (Bridget Andrews rode the other Skelton-trained winner).
  • Paul Townend, now first jockey to Willie Mullins, has ridden three winners.

How did the trends do last year?

State Man was an unusual winner in that he had never run in a handicap hurdle before, and only had one win from three runs over hurdles.

Whilst not a strong trends pick, he had to be respected because his profile was almost identical to that of Saint Roi, who won for State Man's trainer and jockey in 2020.

Fourth West Cork was the strongest trends pick amongst the top four. Trained by top race trainer Dan Skelton, he was ideally rated at 141 and had won only three hurdle races, including one decent handicap. He'd also been placed at Grade 2 level and arrived fresh, having not run since December.

Second First Street also ticked a lot of boxes, having finished third last time out in key trial, the Betfair Hurdle. Trained by Nicky Henderson, he'd only won one handicap hurdle, and three hurdle races overall, and had a rating of just 142.

Third had claims, being trained in Ireland and having only won one maiden hurdle, but the lack of a handicap hurdle outing was off-putting for this runner, given the lack of wins and over-exposure. He'd run in seven hurdle races, including many Graded events.

Who Fits The Trends Best In 2023?

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 the release of entries.

Representing top race trainer Willie Mullins, Winter Fog cantered home on debut for his new yard in a handicap hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas.

That was the nine-year-old's first handicap hurdle win at the fifth time of asking, though he had been second in a 3m handicap hurdle at the same meeting a year previously, and went straight to Cheltenham following that to be fourth in the Pertemps Final.

He ticks all the experience and exposure trends, and hails from the most dominate yard, the only catch is that his Irish handicap mark is no 148, which is very high and getting outside the normal realm for County Hurdle winners.

From the same stable, JP McManus-owned Hercule Du Seuil, Brazil and Icare Allen fit the experience and exposure trends too, with last year's Triumph Hurdle fourth Icare Allen best fitting the trends and entered in key trial, the Betfair Hurdle on February 11.

Brazil also has more experience than Hercule Du Seuil, but is marked down on trends as former Cheltenham winners tend to be too exposed to win the County Hurdle. He won last year's Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle.

McManus could have another County ace up his sleeve in Filey Bay, trained by Emmet Mullins to win two handicap hurdles in Britain this season, his first with Mullins.

He's unbeaten in two runs for his new stable, which he joined as a maiden. His Irish handicap rating is now 131, which is a bit low to get into the County Hurdle, where the bottom weight is normally around 135.

To rectify that, and in a boost to him being a trends pick, he is entered in key trial, the Betfair Hurdle.

Another to note from Ireland is Path d'Oroux from the Gavin Cromwell yard. The six-year-old is two from four over hurdles, getting off the mark last time out over 2m at Navan in impressive fashion. He's now rated 138 in Ireland, which is very attractive ahead of the County Hurdle.

Trainers based in Britain do have a poor recent record in the race, but it could be worth noting Gin Coco. Traine Harry Fry has raced the seven-year-old very lightly since getting him early last year, including sending him out to finish second in his only handicap hurdle outings at the Punchestown Festival and Cheltenham's valuable November meeting.

He is a two-time novice hurdle winner outside that and looks to have more up his sleeve. He fits all the key trends and is rated just 135 in Britain currently, with a Betfair Hurdle entry pending.

Check out latest Cheltenham ante post odds.

2022 County Hurdle Result

Position Name Price Trainer Jockey
1st State Man 11/4f Willie Mullins Paul Townend
2nd First Street 16/1 Nicky Henderson Nico De Boinville
3rd Colonel Mustard 13/2 Lorna Fowler Conor Orr
4th West Cork 13/2 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton

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.