2.10 County Handicap Hurdle
Friday 13 March | Age: 5yo+ | Prize: £100,000
The County Handicap Hurdle was first run in 1920 and was traditionally the meeting’s curtain-closer. It is still run on the fourth and final day, but following a reshuffle of the schedule in 2009, it has been moved from being the last race, to being the second.
CARNAGE is almost guaranteed in the County Hurdle as 20-odd keen beans all jostle for position.
You need a horse who can get a good position, go a frantic gallop and then find a bit more at the end as they come up the hill. It’s usually a brilliant race.
My pick for the race is MOHAAYED who won it in 2018 and has clearly been campaigned for this all season. His handicap mark looks brilliant now and although he is shortening in the market I am very keen on him.
I had my eye on one or two others but they are now non-runners so it’s Mohaayed all the way for me.
JP McManus has enjoyed a sensational week and in the County Hurdle his CIEL DE NEIGE (2.10) hasn’t been over-burdened by a 4lb rise for running second in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.
He finished an excellent third in last year’s Boodles Handicap Hurdle won by Band of Outlaws and has been well found in the betting market.
His trainer Willie Mullins saddles another McManus hopeful in easy Tramore winner Saint Roi, the mount of Barry Geraghty, while Aramon moves into handicap company under Paul Townend on the back of a respectable fifth to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
JP’s quintet is completed by Buildmeupbuttercup and Tiger Tap Tap.
Joseph O’Brien’s Embittered was an eye-catcher in a handicap hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival, running sixth to the Charles Byrnes-trained Thosedaysaregone.
He was a decent enough bumper horse last season and has slipped under the radar for Gigginstown.
Dan Skelton has won three of the last four renewals of the County Hurdle and Mohaayed, first in 2018 and seventh last year behind stablemate Ch’itbello, has dropped to an attractive mark.
Yet another very competitive handicap hurdle race, which is always a great spectacle.
From a betting view, this is very hard to try and find the best handicapped horse in the race, with there being 26 runners. The one I'm siding with is EMBITTERED, trained by Joseph O'Brien.
I'm hoping the weather forecast is accurate and the rain stays away from the course, as I think a sounder surface will pay dividends for Embittered.
His bumper form on good to soft ground is impeccable, he finished 3 lengths behind Envoi Allen, who we all know is a superstar, and then he finished 4th behind Colreevy & Abacadabras in a Grade 1 bumper.
His hurdle form is decent, especially his latest run where he finished 6th in a big field handicap at Leopardstown, which will set him up perfectly for this.
There are many horses in with a good chance, so I advise to have a deep look for yourself, but if you're following me then Embittered is the one.
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