County Hurdle Trends

hurdles

County Hurdle Trends 2022

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 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 14 winners being rated 132-139.

You can narrow the field down even further with 12 of the last 13 winners being rated 134+.

The only three runners not in the highlighted bracket were; Arctic Fire who scored off a rating of 158 and Ch’tibello off of 146 and Belfast Banter last year off 129.

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.

Stat Two

Further cutting through the field, 10 of the last 13 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.

11 of the last 15 winners placed in top three in their prep run for the festival.

All of the last six 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 in 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.

10 of the last 13 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 lin 2020 and last year Belfast Banter won off just 10st, with Petit Mouchoir back in second giving nearly a stone and a half away.

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.

10 of the last 15 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.

Although last year's winner was not sired by a Group One winner, he had won a Group Two so class still prevailed.

Stat Six

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

Only one of the last 13 winners were the SP favourite and that came two years ago with Saint Roi.

Furthermore, only three of the last 13 winners were even top three in the betting for the race.

Don’t get too sucked into the favourite or even those at the top of the market, there’s an unexposed 5-6 year old lurking deeper in the betting for plenty more value.

Value Angle

Flicking through the NRNB markets yields an interesting type in Top Bandit.

Trained by Gordon Elliott, a winner on his last three starts, rated 139 just on the border of our bracket of 132-139, he looks a perfect fit for this race.

Currently the second favourite for the race he is already a winner at the track and should go close having looked to be held back for this race.

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