1.55 County Handicap Hurdle
Friday 18 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.
Well if you thought the Coral Cup and the Kim Muir were tricky handicaps, you aint seen nothing yet.
Thankfully there are lots of extra places on offer and one firm is going 8 (EIGHT) places each way (although their prices aren't as competitive) so if we can't get one in the frame we are in the wrong game.
I'll go for two selections in the race although I could also make a case for a few others including Third Time Lucki, Ciel De Niege and You Raised Me Up.
A good judge that I know has suggested that GOWEL ROAD might be a live one at a big price and I agree. He looks a bit of a lunatic to me, pulling hard, drifting off a straight line and wandering around a bit last time out.
However, he showed good battling qualities to fight back and win that day after being headed and I think that sort of quality is essential in a horse, particularly if you are looking for one to run well in a big handicap like this. He also has some experience in handicaps which is crucial for this race.
The pace of the race should suit him and allow him to settle better and I think he can go well in a race where novices or second season novices have a great record. He might be a drifter as the money comes for the Irish horses so back him with one of the firms going Best Odds Guaranteed (Ladbrokes, Bet365, Coral).
My top selection though is ECLAIR DE BEAUFEU for the Denise Foster yard (standing in for Gordon Elliott). He was a good second last year at the festival in the Grand Annual and now returns to hurdling off a considerably reduced mark, giving him a stone in hand based on his chase rating.
If he can run to his chase mark here he will walk all over them. He has jumping issues at times but the strong pace will force him to concentrate and if he can get round I can't see him being out of the top 6.
Voice of Value's County Handicap Hurdle Tip
- Eclair De Beaufeu 1.5pt ew at 12-1 with Bet365 (6 places and BOG)
- Gowel Road 1pt ew at 16-1 with Ladbrokes and Coral (both 6 places and BOG)
The four JP McManus-owned runners deserve close inspection. CAYD BOY has been off the track 110 days but form figures 112212 from six outings points to a prominent each-way run at big odds.
He landed a competitive handicap at Down Royal in October before posting a gallant second to Advanced Virgo at Fairyhouse, attempting to concede a massive 22lb to the winner.
Drop The Anchor was a neck away in third and should also go well in the McManus silks. He is well held by Cayd Boy at the weights but landed the Ladbrokes Hurdle from re-opposing Champagne Gold at Leopardstown last month.
Willie Mullins fields five of the 26 runners and the market points to Ganapathi. He moves into handicap company on the back of a respectable Leopardstown fifth to Bob Olinger, brilliant winner of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on Wednesday, and has a lovely 10st 11lb racing weight to carry.
Captain Kangaroo, runner-up in two maidens at Naas, also goes handicapping off a light weight.
Martin Brassil has wrapped You Raised Me Up in cotton wool since his third in last year’s Ladbrokes Hurdle. Two subsequent victories at maiden/novice hurdle level have helped preserve his handicap mark and You Raised Me Up would not be a surprise winner.
Thommo's County Handicap Hurdle Tips
- Cayd Boy 18/1 (Casumo)
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