County Hurdle Trends


James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

County Hurdle Trends 2024

The County Hurdle is run over 2 miles and 1 furlong on the new course and is the first handicap on the last day of the festival.

The last six runnings have been dominated by two stables with Dan Skelton winning the 2016, 2018 and 2019 renewals and Willie Mullins winning the 2015, 2017, 2020 and 2020 runnings.

It can be a tricky race to navigate, but there’s plenty of stats and trends to narrow your focus down in the big field to hopefully find the winner.

Stat One

First place to start with the handicaps is with ratings. There’s a nice slim bracket to focus on in this race with 12 of the last 15 winners being rated 132-139.

You can narrow the field down even further with 13 of the last 14 winners being rated 134+.

The only four runners not in the highlighted bracket were Arctic Fire who scored off a rating of 158, Ch’tibello off of 146, Belfast Banter two years ago off 129 and last year where State Man was 141.

Anything below 134 might not have the quality necessary for the race, those rated above 139 might be overexposed and in the grip of the handicapper.

134-139 would be the apparent sweet spot to focus on from the last 15 races.

Stat Two

Further cutting through the field, 11 of the last 14 winners were aged five or six years old.

Coupling the first two trends gives the impression that being young and unexposed is a huge benefit when coming into the County Hurdle, with novices doing well in the race.

Again Ch’tibello and Artic Fire are the two recent exceptions to the rule, but both brought a real touch of class to the field.

Focus on those in the highlighted bracket, they haven’t shown too much to be fully sussed by the handicapper but have the right amount of experience to handle the big occasion of the festival.

Stat Three

Going through the form of previous County hurdle winners, it shows that it’s important to come into the festival on form.

12 of the last 16 winners placed in top three in their prep run for the festival.

All of the last seven winners came in off the back of a top three finish so look for those who ran well last time out.

Wicklow Brave was a rare blip to this trend after pulling up in the Imperial Cup six days before striking festival glory.

Be wary of those not involved in the finish last time out.

Stat Four

An interesting angle to explore is the weight carried by the previous winners of this handicap.

11 of the last 14 winners of the County Hurdle carried 11st 1lb or less.

It’s a different approach to take that can narrow the field down exponentially.

The stats and trends are really leaning to those who are unexposed, Saint Roi only carried 10st 13lbs to victory in 2020, in 2021 Belfast Banter won off just 10st, with Petit Mouchoir back in second giving nearly a stone and a half away and last year State Man got the job done off 11st 1lb.

Don’t be afraid to spend your time near the bottom of the handicap with young horses, they have more scope for improvement and aren’t under the thumb of the assessor.

Stat Five

Breeding can be an important factor on the big stage and finding those who have class in their blood can pay dividends in this sort of race.

11 of the last 16 winners of the County were sired by a Group 1 winner on the flat.

Look for those with class inbuilt. It can be the difference at this level.

Stat Six

Finally, be wary of the market vibes in this race.

Only two of the last 14 winners were the SP favourite, but the last two favourites came in 2020 and 2022 to suggest maybe punters are getting it right with the best horse in the race now winning the County.

Furthermore, only four of the last 14 winners were even top three in the betting for the race.

Value Angle - Pembroke

Flicking through the NRNB markets yields an interesting type in Gin Coco for Harry Fry.

Trained by Dan Skelton who we previously mentioned has a superb record in recent years in this race, Pembroke fits a lot of the trends being given a mark of 136 which fits perfectly in the bracket of past winners.

Also a progressive novice who tried a different trip last time out that didn't work but still finishing second and now dropping back to his preferred trip, he looks a big player.