14:10 Cheltenham Fri 16 March 2018

  • Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1)
  • 2m 179y, Soft (Heavy in places)
  • 24 Runners
  • Winner£56,950.002nd£21,370.003rd£10,700.004th£5,330.005th£2,680.006th£1,340.00
  • Surface: Turf
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Weighed In

Winning time:4m 18.0sOff time:14:11:41
1
711-12OR: 154
10/1
Useful form this season, form of last month's Betfair Hurdle done no harm in Tuesday's Supreme here. Stable jockey's pick from McManus quartet despite 8lb increase and top-weight says plenty.
Watch last raceLast run
2
611-9OR: 151BF
33/1
Finally delivering on his potential with back-to-back successes at Kempton and Ascot in January but reverted to type in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury and remains a quirky character. Top conditional jockey booked takes off useful 3lb.
Watch last raceLast run
3
611-6OR: 148CD
25/1
Won the Triumph Hurdle on this card two seasons ago, but hasn't put his head in front since. Four runs over the winter suggests he's lost appetite for the game, including when tailed off here in the Greatwood. Leap of faith required.
Watch last raceLast run
4
711-5OR: 147
50/1
Some promising signs in the summer with two wins over hurdles alongside a Flat success (rated 83). Another that failed to perform in the Greatwood here and has been poor in three further runs.
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5
611-4OR: 146BFD
20/1
Winner of two Grade B hurdles in late summer before two fine efforts on the Flat. Enjoyed a nice prep for this last month at Gowran Park on testing ground and could be set for a bold run now for trainer with remarkable record in this.
Watch last raceLast run
6
511-3OR: 145D
33/1
Pair of wins in minor hurdles last summer on good/yielding ground and has been mixing with some smart types since in Graded races without success. Not given the easiest mark, but could be capable of a big effort. Pick of trainer's three.
Watch last raceLast run
7
1011-3OR: 145CD
20/1
Winner of Listed handicap at Sandown in December on return from layoff / only outing this season. Has been put away since and likely player from 6lb higher mark.
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8
511-3OR: 145D
11/1
Only two starts since joining Mullins team from France, landed Naas Grade 3 in January on second of those. Only 3lb higher now, with scope for better. Yard have bagged this four times in eight years.
Watch last raceLast run
9
911-2OR: 144CD
50/1
Now 5lb higher than when winning C&D handicap in January, well held behind a few of these at Newbury last month and held again in lesser Lingfield contest 11 days ago: others have more in their favour.
Watch last raceLast run
10
711-1OR: 143D
40/1
Smart handicap hurdler who could be on a workable mark for this. Last spotted over fences at Ascot in November, gets the Champion Jockey on his back and weighted to be competitive on form.
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11
911-0OR: 142CD
20/1
Champion Bumper winner here in 2015 but has had his problems since (just six more runs). Pulled up in Champion Hurdle last term, just two runs since and no threat at Newbury last month amongst a few of these on first start after wind op.
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12
610-13OR: 141BF
25/1
Useful form in Graded hurdles last season, consistent without being able to score in five starts over fences this winter. Wears a first-time tongue-tie as he switches focus to hurdles once more in competitive contest and yard enjoying a good week.
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13
510-13OR: 141
12/1
Mare was a comfortable scorer over 2m4f at Punchestown last month. She has form over this trip a and yard have won this four times in eight years but stable jockey has ridden only one of those winners. Fair mark, seemingly.
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14
510-13OR: 141D
7/1
Landed two valuable handicaps on the Flat at Galway Festival last summer, very fortunate winner of Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown in December, though not disgraced behind Samcro there since. Lively player.
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15
510-13OR: 141
33/1
Just denied here in the Fred Winter last year when trained by Nicky Henderson, hasn't sparkled in two runs for this trainer but first-time tongue-tie added here and just 2lb higher than last year.
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16
510-12OR: 140CD
6/1
Rated 6lb higher than when edging out Divin Bere to win the Fred Winter here last season, running sound races in good company over the winter and fair effort last month in Kingwell at Wincanton should leave him ripe for today.
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17
710-12OR: 140D
100/1
Last spotted winning a Doncaster handicap over 2m½f on good ground in December 2016 for Paul Nicholls. Represents new trainer today, gets in off that winning mark.
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18
810-12OR: 140CD
16/1
Won the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr (2m, good to soft) in April from a mark 3lb higher than this, yard in cracking form and advertised his well-being with AW score at Kempton 11 days ago. 5lb claim also helps, one to take note of.
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19
610-11OR: 139
12/1
Progressive hurdler for the Skelton's this term, winning at Lingfield before excellent second in Lanzarote at Kempton (2m5f, soft). This trip just about as short as he wants, but soft ground and testing finish in his favour.
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20
610-11OR: 139
12/1
Well-backed to win 2m4f soft-ground handicap at Punchestown in October on first start for this yard. Run well in decent handicaps in Ireland since, assessor hasn't missed him for first British outing but connections much-respected.
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21
610-11OR: 139D
33/1
Just over 3L off Arctic Fire in this last year (5lb higher now), before placing behind Chesterfield at Ayr, tailed off here in the Greatwood in November and ground may have gone against him now.
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22
610-9OR: 137CD
16/1
Unbeaten in three starts over timber, latest when beating Remiluc by 2L over C&D in December. Gone up 8lb for that effort, in a much more competitive field, but entitled to improve again.
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23
510-8OR: 136
10/1
Grade 3 winner in Ireland over Christmas on heavy ground over 2m, disappointing at Naas in January when a long way off Sandsend, but handicapper has taken a chance with him and he may lead Gordon Elliott's assault on this.
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25
710-5OR: 133CD
16/1
Finished behind the likes of Kalashnikov and A Hare Breath in recent starts, handicapper appears to have given him a decent sniff of being competitive in this with a return to form.
Watch last raceLast run

Non-Runners

24
Brahms De Clermont11
710-7OR: 135
T: P F NichollsJ: H Cobden
26
I Shot The Sheriff62
1110-4OR: 132
T: F O'BrienJ: Non Runner
27
Krugermac9
710-0OR: 113
T: G L MooreJ: J E Moore

Last Year's Winner

DRAWHORSEAWGTSP
Arctic Fire811-1220/1
T: W P MullinsJ: P Townend

Betting

Forecast

Flying Tiger (6/1), Whiskey Sour (7/1), Bleu Et Rouge (10/1), Duca De Thaix (10/1), Sandsend (11/1), Spiritofthegames (12/1), Ben Dundee (12/1), Meri Devie (12/1), Chesterfield (16/1), William H Bonney (16/1), Smaoineamh Alainn (16/1), Lagostovegas (20/1), A Hare Breath (20/1), Moon Racer (20/1), Brelade (25/1), Ivanovich Gorbatov (25/1), Brahms De Clermont (25/1), Mohaayed (33/1), Le Richebourg (33/1), Divin Bere (33/1), Jenkins (33/1), I Shot The Sheriff (33/1), Sternrubin (40/1), Remiluc (50/1), Tigris River (50/1), Krugermac (66/1), All Set To Go (100/1)

Verdict

Last year's winner Arctic Fire was a bit of a bolt from the blue, carrying top-weight, and trainer Willie Mullins will attempt the same feat again with Bleu Et Rouge now. He ran well last time at Haydock, but has a tough job here. Last year's Fred Winter scorer Flying Tiger, along with A Hare Breath and Sandsend are worth considering but WHISKEY SOUR might be the one to give his trainer a third win in four years. He's very consistent in both codes and his run behind Samcro last time is easily forgiven. Chesterfield, Smaoineamh Alainn and Duca De Thaix all help form an extensive shortlist and are capable of having their say.
  1. Whiskey Sour
  2. Flying Tiger
  3. Chesterfield

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T: J H M Gosden

Aussie View

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T: H Morrison

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