COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE INFO
Date: Friday (13:55), March 18, 2022
Type: Grade 3 Handicap Race
Distance: 2 Miles 1 Furlong
The County Hurdle is a Grade 3 handicap run over a trip just short of 2 miles and 1 furlong on the New Course at Cheltenham. For those aged five and over, the County Handicap Hurdle 2022 will take place on the day 4 of the Cheltenham Festival, Friday March 18th at 1.55PM and will be worth £100,000.
Former professional boxer who is now a content writer specialising in sports and betting. Has worked for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Coral and Betfair covering all manner of sports, from boxing and football to horse racing. A student of the formbook, he loved stats, trends, numbers and how they can guide punters towards a winner.
Featuring eight flights of hurdles, the County Hurdle is hugely competitive because of its place in the calendar, it’s prize fund and the fact that it’s a handicap so picking the winner of this race has never been made easy.
That said, it remains one of the most popular betting races of the whole year in Britain turning over millions of pounds at the track, in the offices and online while jockeys and trainers are desperate to win it.
The County Hurdle has been on the go since 1920 and was famous for bringing the curtain down on the Festival every year, and while it is no longer the last race but rather the second race of the final day, it has lost none of its brilliance and excitement.
Official entries are a long way off for this race, and given the scale of the potential runners right across Britain and Ireland an accurate ante post book is something most bookmakers aren’t yet thinking of either.
The leading rider in this race is the now retired Ruby Walsh with four victories, while the most successful trainer title in the County Hurdle is held jointly by two current giants of the game; Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls.
While those trainers each have four wins apiece, we cannot ignore the knack Dan Skelton seems to have with this contest and having won it three times in four years it seems it may not be long before he is overhauling them.
In terms of the number of runs winners of this race have had, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Some have had light campaigns while others had been kept going right throughout the previous summer.
Form-wise though, and taking out Arctic Fire who hadn’t run for a year, 8 out of 9 (89%) winners had been placed last time out, or the time before and that is crucial. Not many horses will come into this race in bad form and can be expected to win it.
All of the last 10 winners have been aged between five and eight, 3 x 5yo, 4 x 6yo and 3 x 8yo. A fair spread then, meaning we can probably expect more of the same.
None of the last ten winners of this contest have gone off as market leader, so while that’s not to say the favourite cannot win, we must think bigger in terms of where to look for potential winners.
That being said, the average SP of winners in this race during this time period is less than 17/1, so it may well be that an in-form type of the right age who is perhaps around 16/1 or under could be the one, and so narrowing this field may not be so difficult.
At the 2022 Cheltenham Festival we saw a real peak in terms of the offers delved out by bookmakers, so while we cannot know yet what deals will be put forward this time around by bookies fighting for your custom, we can use last year’s as a guide.
Paddy Power were especially aggressive with their special offers last year, one of their deals being the £20 Money Back in Cash if The First Bet Loses offer while 888Sport were offering enhanced odds on specific horses, something the remain likely to do in a big betting handicap races like this one so keep looking out for that.
We already have a couple of live ante post betting options, so if you can get a bet on either of these horses with a ‘non-runner, no bet’ deal then you’ll be doing well. This means that you can take prices up to 50/1, safe in the knowledge that if these selections have any chance on the day, they’ll be a lot shorter in the market and yet still get your money back if the horse doesn’t run.
When the final declarations for this race are made on Wednesday March 10th, we will have a better idea of the final prices and key contenders and by then you can bet on a more solid each-way County Hurdle betting market.
Last 10 County Hurdle winners:
After some strong money came for him in the morning, Willie Mullins’ Whiskey Sour went off favourite for the 2019 County Hurdle at 5/1 but it was a competitive betting market. One that was relatively weak was Dan Skelton’s Ch’tibello, opening at 9/1 before going off at 12/1 but he was looking incredibly well and it seemed a big race was on the cards.
After moving up to challenge following the penultimate flight, he hit the last hurdle but got to the lead and despite drifting across the track somewhat he was ridden out well by Harry Skelton to score. Ch’tibello takes his place then among our list of the last ten County Hurdle winners.