The County Hurdle (formerly known as Vincent O Brien County Handicap Hurdle) is one of the oldest races at the Cheltenham Festival, a class A grade 3 hurdle for horses aged five and over, run on the Cheltenham New Course over a distance of 2 miles and 1 furlong. Peter Fahey's Belfast Banter - ridden by Kevin Sexton - was a shock 33/1 winner of last year's County Hurdle. Find below our Cheltenham 2022 McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle race preview, with odds, tips, predictions, trends, free bets and betting promotions.
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COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE BETTING PREVIEW
The County Hurdle is one of the most difficult races to back a winner at the Cheltenham National Hunt Racing Festival. It's a Grade 3 National Hunt handicap hurdle race, run over two miles and one furlong, for horses aged five years and upwards. The race always attracts the maximum field, making it full of potentially well handicapped horses, who all will fancy their chances of winning.
Willie Mullins has saddled five of the last eleven winners so expect him to have a good chance in the 2022 County Handicap Hurdle once again.
And now we take a closer look at this year's McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle and try to determine which horse is likely to prevail.
Who will win the County Handicap Hurdle 2022?
STATE MAN fell on his stable debut for Willie Mullins at Leopardstown on Boxing Day before justifying odds of 1/7 to win at Limerick last time out. This eye-catching performance made him the red hot favourite for this race.
TOP BANDIT made it three wins from four hurdles starts at Punchestown in February. He has experience of Prestbury Park - having won a maiden on the Old Course earlier in the season. He comes here at the top of his game and very fresh.
WEST CORK won the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham’s November Meeting. He suffered an overreach when well-beaten at Ascot in a race won by TRITONIC the following month. Anyway, we expect him to be in the mix.
SURPRISE PACKAGE set himself up for a potential County Hurdle bid with a 9 lenght victory in the Paddy Power Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle at Sandown.
MY MATE MOZZIE was only denied on the line in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novices’ Hurdle. Gavin Cromwell’s six-year-old was beaten some 53 lengths when placing fourth behind Sir Gerhard at Leopardstown last month but can finish much closer this time.
COLONEL MUSTARD finished two-and-three-quarter-lengths behind Jonbon in the Grade 2 Howden Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot and he ran very well behind Sir Gerhard at Leopardstown last time out. In this company, he can surely stand out.
I LIKE TO MOVE IT, who also holds the option of the Supreme Novices, is 2 from 2 over the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle course and distance this season having won the Grade 2 Supreme Trial in November, and the Betfair Hurdle last month.
BROOMFIELD BURG was outgunned by track specialist Lively Citizen in December, but he still shaped as though he was a horse ahead of his mark and made light work of a modest field at Kempton on Boxing Day.
CORMIER’s recent Morebattle Hurdle win by 1 ½ lengths was is second win in as many races having prior to that won a decent handicap at Cheltenham at the end of January. All eyes will be on this Brian Ellison-trained 6 year-old to see if he can follow-up at the Cheltenham Festival and scoop the bet365 £100k bonus payday!
FIRST STREET, GUA DU LARGE, BALLYADAM, FELIX DESJY, IRASCIBLE and CALL ME LYREEN can't be ruled out, at least for a place.
At the moment, the most backed horses are the following:
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COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE TRENDS
- Just 1 of the last 15 favourites won
- Just 2 of the last 15 winners returned at single figure odds
- 9 of the last 10 winners had never won at Cheltenham before or a Grade 1 race
- 10 of the last 15 winners were Irish trained
- 13 of the last 18 winners were ex-Flat horses
- 9 of the last 10 winners carried 11st 5lbs or less
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COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE PREDICTIONS
Find below our free betting tips on the McCoy Contractors County Hurdle 2022. Feel free to copy our Cheltenham Festival expert predictions and get the highest prices available on this race by clicking the 'Bet' button! Plus, we invite you to take a look at our NAP of the Day section everyday.
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2022 COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE FAQs
What time is the County Handicap Hurdle?
The McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle is the 2nd race run on Day 4 of the Cheltenham Festival. That falls on Friday March 18, 2022 and the official starting time is 2:10pm.
How many obstacles are jumped in the County Handicap Hurdle?
There are 8 obstacles to jump for the County Handicap Hurdle runners
What is the distance of the County Handicap Hurdle?
The County Handicap Hurdle is run on a distance of 2 miles and 179 yards
What is the prize money for the County Handicap Hurdle?
The total prize money on offer for the County Handicap Hurdle at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival will be £100,000.
Who won the County Handicap Hurdle last year?
Last year's renewal was won by Belfast Banter at SP of 33/1, trained by Peter Fahey and ridden by Kevin Sexton.
What weights are carried for the County Handicap Hurdle?
As it is a traditional National Hunt handicap hurdle, weights range from 11 st 12 lb for the top weight, to 10 st for the bottom weight.
Who is the leading jockey in the County Handicap Hurdle?
Ruby Walsh has ridden the winner of the race on four occasions. Since his retirement, Paul Townend, now first jockey to Willie Mullins, has ridden two winners. Harry Skelton has won twice as well.
Who is the leading trainer in the County Handicap Hurdle?
The joint-most successful trainers in the County Hurdle (since 1946) are Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins, with four wins each. Dan Skelton has only saddled nine runners, but has saddled three of the last six winners.