County Handicap Hurdle Race Card

McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (GBB Race)

1st
Paul Townend

State Man

Age: 5
Weight: 11.1
OR: 141
J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
towards rear of midfield and on outer, smooth headway from 2 out, led approaching last, ridden final 110yds, ran on well
2nd
Nico de Boinville

First Street

Age: 5
Weight: 11.1
OR: 142
J:
 
Nico de Boinville
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
in touch with leaders, ridden home turn, headway approaching last, went second run-in, kept on well final 110yds, always held
3rd
Conor Orr

Colonel Mustard

Age: 7
Weight: 11.0
OR: 140
J:
 
Conor Orr
T:
 
Mrs Lorna Fowler
in touch with leaders, tracked leaders from 3rd, went second after 2 out, briefly led approaching last, soon ridden and hung left, no extra when lost second final 110yds
4th
Harry Skelton

West Cork

Age: 8
Weight: 11.1
OR: 141
J:
 
Harry Skelton
T:
 
Dan Skelton
held up in rear, headway before 2 out, ridden before last, went fourth run-in, kept on but always held
5th
Aidan Coleman

Ballyadam

Age: 7
Weight: 11.3
OR: 144
J:
 
Aidan Coleman
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
midfield, ridden when short of room home turn, headway approaching last, kept on run-in, never dangerous

Second race of Gold Cup Day

The County Handicap Hurdle is the second race on Gold Cup day. It is the first of the handicaps on the day and is ran on the new Cheltenham course.

The race is run over 2 miles, with eight hurdles for the runners. Horses five and older are eligible to enter, with the required handicap mark to make the final field often changing year on year.

There is prize money of £56,000 to the winner, with the race given Grade three status.

History of the County Handicap Hurdle

The race is one of the older races at the festival, with its inaugural running in 1920 and the race was often in out and of the programme, with it not being ran in some years.

In 1995, the title of the race was changed in tribute to the great trainer, Vincent O’Brien, with the race being named the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle, following his retirement in 1994.

Up until 2009, the County was traditionally known as the closing race of the Cheltenham festival however it was then rescheduled to be the second race on Gold Cup day.

The race is currently sponsored by Randox Health.

Recent years

Ch’tibello was the 2019 winner, for Harry Skelton with brother Dan on board. The pair also combined for victory in 2016 and it was a third victory in four years for Harry Skelton between 2016 and 2019.

Skelton’s quick rise and his impressive record in the race already puts him within one of joining Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins at the top of winners for the race. The pairs four victories in the race means they are the most successful trainers in the race, with first winning it in 2004 and most recently in 2014. Mullins’ success is more recent, first winning it in 2010 and followed it up the year after. He has won it as recently as 2017. They’re wins have come with:

Paul Nicholls:

Sporazene (2004)

Desert Quest (2006)

American Trilogy (2009)

Lac Fontana (2014)

Willie Mullins:

Thousand Stars (2010)

Final Approach (2011)

Wicklow Brave (2015)

Arctic Fire (2017)

With success for Mullins and Nicholls it also means success for Ruby Walsh, who has ridden for both and has won the race for both trainers. Walsh has won the race on four occasions, three times for Nicholls and once for Mullins, making him the most successful jockey outright in the race. The specific list is below:

Ruby Walsh:

Sporazene (2004)

Desert Quest (2006)

American Trilogy (2009)

Final Approach (2011)

Having won the last five renewals between them, Willie Mullins and Dan Skelton are obviously the trainers to take note of again come 2020. In that time, Harry Skelton has won twice as has Paul Townend, so them combining with their respected trainers could provide a winning combination again. Paul Nicholls hasn’t won the race since 2014 but he clearly knows what it takes, so his runners should also enter calculations.

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