COUNTY HURDLE

The County Hurdle is arguably the hottest handicap of the week at the Festival.

Run over the same course and distance as the Triumph Hurdle, luck in running is needed - especially if you backed a hold-up horse.

Grade 3 | 5yo+ | Friday 14.10
2 miles 1 furlong | 8 hurdles | New Course
Weight: 10st - 11st 12lb (handicap)
Prize money (2022): £100,000 | 1st: £56,270

This ultra-competitive race used to be the last of the week, giving punters the hardest puzzle to solve as the 'getting out' stakes. 

However, it moved to its current position in the Cheltenham Festival schedule in 2009.

From 1995 until 2016 it was called the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle in honour of the great Irish trainer who sent out 23 Festival winners.

Subsequently it was sponsored by Randox Health and now by McCoy Contractors.

COUNTY HURDLE TRENDS

7 of the last 8 winners were trained by Willie Mullins or Dan Skelton
18 of the last 22 winners were either novices or second-season hurdlers
15 of the last 19 winners were aged either 5 or 6
11 of the last 16 winners were Irish trained
2 of the last 15 winners returned at single figure odds
2 of the last 16 favourites won (2 of the last 3)
Updated to include 2022 renewal

Considering just how hard it is to win the race, it is particularly noteworthy that Willie Mullins and Dan Skelton have won 7 of the last 8 renewals.

Indeed, Mullins has won the County Hurdle a record six times, including the 1-2-4 in 2020.

Paul Nicholls has won it four times - with his last winner coming in 2014.

By contrast, Nicky Henderson and Gordon Elliott have poor recent records in the race, despite throwing plenty of runners at it.

Speed is obviously a key attribute, particularly when the ground is decent and, as with most handicaps, unexposed types have tended to come to the fore.

However, two of the last five winners were eight-year-old's rated at 146 and 158.

Arctic Fire in 2017, was the first top weight to win since 1960, but the runners-up in 2019 and 2020 both carried just 1b off.

Additionally, the 2021 runner-up, Petit Mouchoir, was the top-rated horse (155), albeit his amateur jockey was claiming 7lb.

Randomly, no seven-year-old has won the County Hurdle since 2003 (there were 6 seven-year-old's in the race in 2021 & 2022).

LAST 5 WINNERS’ DATA

YEAR
AGE
OFFICIAL RATING
WEIGHT
2022
5
141
11-1
2021
6
129
10-0
2020
5
137
10-13
2019
8
146
11-5
2018
6
139
10-8

RECENT WINNERS

YEAR
WINNER
JOCKEY / TRAINER
SP
2022
State Man
Paul Townend / Willie Mullins
11/4f
2021
Belfast Banter
Kevin Sexton / Peter Fahey
33/1
2020
Saint Roi
Barry Geraghty / Willie Mullins
11/2f
2019
Ch'tibello
Harry Skelton / Dan Skelton
12/1
2018
Mohaayed
Bridget Andrews / Dan Skelton
33/1
2017
Arctic Fire
Paul Townend / Willie Mullins
20/1
2016
Superb Story
Harry Skelton / Dan Skelton
8/1
2015
Wicklow Brave
Paul Townend / Willie Mullins
25/1
2014
Lac Fontana
Daryl Jacob / Paul Nicholls
11/1
2013
Ted Veale
Bryan Cooper / Tony Martin
10/1
2012
Alderwood
Tony McCoy / Thomas Mullins
20/1
2011
Final Approach
Ruby Walsh / Willie Mullins
10/1
2010
Thousand Stars
Katie Walsh / Willie Mullins
20/1
2009
American Trilogy
Ruby Walsh / Paul Nicholls
20/1
2008
Silver Jaro
Noel Fehily / Tom Hogan
50/1
2007
Pedrobob
Philip Carberry / Tony Mullins
12/1
2006
Desert Quest
Ruby Walsh / Paul Nicholls
4/1jf
2005
Fontanesi
Timmy Murphy / Martin Pipe
16/1
2004
Sporazene
Ruby Walsh / Paul Nicholls
7/1jf
2003
Spirit Leader
Barry Geraghty / Jessica Harrington
10/1
2002
Rooster Booster
Richard Johnson / Philip Hobbs
8/1
2001

Festival Cancelled

2000
Master Tern
Tony Dobbin / Jonjo O'Neill
9/2f

Kevin Sexton rode his first Festival winner aboard Belfast Banter in 2021:

Saint Roi, making his handicap debut and on just his fourth career start, headed home a Mullins 1-2-4 in 2020.

The unexposed five-year-old was heavily backed and proved to be Barry Geraghty's final ever Cheltenham Festival winner:

Ch'tibello secured back-to-back County Hurdle's (and a third victory in four years) for trainer Dan Skelton in 2019.

His brother Harry was in the saddle - who followed up his girlfriend Bridget Andrews' win in the race 12 months earlier:

It was a first Festival win for the 3lb claimer Bridget Andrews in 2018, with 33/1 shot Mohaayed seeing off the 50/1 Remiluc:

Arctic Fire defied top weight on his first start for 418 days in 2017, while Paul Townend won the race for the second time in 3 years.

The 2015 Champion Hurdle runner-up was carrying almost a stone more than when just beaten in this race 3 seasons earlier:

Wicklow Brave was a runaway winner for Willie Mullins back in 2015:

Lac Fontana 2014

Ted Veale 2013

Thousand Stars 2010

Rooster Booster 2002

Sir Talbot 1999

Barna Boy 1997

PREVIOUS WINNERS

YEAR
WINNER
JOCKEY / TRAINER
SP
1999
Sir Talbot
Timmy Murphy / Jim Old
10/1
1998
Blowing Wind
Tony McCoy / Martin Pipe
15/8f
1997
Barna Boy
Richard Dunwoody / Nicky Henderson
14/1
1996
Star Rage
Dean Gallagher / Jimmy Harris
14/1
1995
Home Counties
James Moffatt / Dudley Moffatt
14/1
1994
Dizzy
Tony Dobbin / Peter Monteith
12/1
1993
Thumbs Up
Richard Dunwoody / Nicky Henderson
16/1
1992
Dusty Miller
Jamie Osborne / Simon Sherwood
9/1
1991
Winnie the Witch
David Bridgwater / Ken Bridgwater
33/1
1990
Moody Man
Peter Hobbs / Philip Hobbs
9/1
1989
Willsford
Michael Bowlby / Jenny Pitman
11/1
1988
Cashew King
Trevor Wall / Bryan McMahon
9/1
1987
Neblin
Richard Guest / Toby Balding
14/1
1986
Jobroke
Jonjo O'Neill / Peter Easterby
6/1f
1985
Floyd
Colin Brown / David Elsworth
5/2f
1984
Hill's Guard
Andrew Stringer / Andrew Scott
6/1
1983
Robin Wonder
Jeff Davies / David Elsworth
10/1
1982
Path of Peace
Jonjo O'Neill / Chris Thornton
4/1
1981
Staplestown
Tommy Ryan / Edward O'Grady
11/2f
1980
Prince of Bermuda
Steve Knight / Bob Turnell
9/1
1979
Monte Ceco
Colin Tinkler / Fred Rimell
6/1
1978

No Race

1977
Kilcoleman
Tommy Kinane / Billy Boyers
14/1
1976
Java Fox
George Jones / Roy Cambidge
16/1
1975

No Race

1974
True Song
Gary Old / Donald Underwood
14/1
1973
Current Romance
David Nicholson / Frenchie Nicholson
20/1
1972
Cold Day
Ron Hyett / Katie Gaze
15/1
1971
Carry Off
David Goulding / Nigel Angus
25/1
1970
Khan
Lord Petersham / Delmer Harty
100/8
1969
Gay Knight
Aly Branford / Les Kennard
100/7
1968
Jolly Signal
Jimmy Uttley / Earl Jones
6/1
1967
Cool Alibi
Roddy Reid / Rodney Bower
20/1
1966
Roaring Twenties
George Milburn / Ken Oliver
10/1
1965
Mayfair Bill
Andrew Turnell / Bob Turnell
33/1
1964
Icy Wonder
Jeff King / Vernon Cross
11/2
1963
Bahrain
Tommy Carberry / Dan Moore
11/2
1962
Sky Pink
Fred Winter / Ryan Price
100/8
1961
Most Unusual
Josh Gifford / Bill Ransom
100/7
1960
Albergo
Doug Page / Clem Magnier
7/4f
1959
Approval
Derek Leslie / Syd Mercer
10/1
1958
Friendly Boy
Liam Brennan / Joe Osborne
3/1f
1957
Flaming East
Peter Pickford / Ricky Vallance
100/6
1956
Pommel
Steve Boddy / John Waugh
100/7
1955

No Race

1954
Bold Baby
Paddy Powell / Michael Dawson
13/8f
1953
Teapot II
Pat Taaffe / Clem Magnier
4/1
1952
Ballymacan
Bryan Marshall / Neville Crump
100/7
1951*
Southwick
George Spann / J. Whiting
100/7
1950
Blue Raleigh
Jimmy Power / Bobby Renton
25/1
1949

No Race

1948
Cape Light
Joe Maguire / Ivor Anthony
2/1f
1947

No Race

1946
Vidi
Don Butchers / Reg Hobbs
6/1


No Race (1943-1945)

1942
Red April
Eric Foley / Lord Stalbridge
100/8
1941
Celibate II
William Hollick / D. Dick
7/1
1940
Sam Brown
Fred Rimell / Private
6/1
1939
Abbot's Own
Frenchie Nicholson / T. O'Sullivan
13/2
1938
Prince Rouge
Mick Prendergast / W. Stubbs
10/1
1937

No Race

1936
Back Isle
Fulke Walwyn / Ben Roberts
7/1
1935
Polly Stephens
Staff Ingham / Len Cundell
2/1f
1934
Jack Grange
William Hollick / Max Barthropp
8/1
1933
Hightide IV
Gerry Wilson / Bertram Bullock
20/1
1932
Fouquet
Billy Stott / F. Wootton
11/4
1931

No Race

1930
Gonedry
Georges Pellerin / Pat Dennis
9/2
1929
Castlederg
Dick Rees / G.S.L Whitelaw
8/1
1928
Truthful James
Billy Parvin / Bay Powell
7/1
1927
Rolie
Howard Cheshire / Tom Rimell
7/1
1926
Checktaker
George Duller / Stanley Harrison
5/2f
1925
Rosecome
J. East / W. McKie
100/7
1924
Argo
George Duller / Tom Coulthwaite
2/1f
1923
Assaroe
F.A Brown / Alfred Newey
6/1
1922
Lukeston
Dick Rees / Stanley Harrison
100/30
1921
Waterbottle
Fred Croney / A. Scott
5/1
1920
Trespasser
George Duller / J.M Bell
4/7f
All County Hurdle winners prior to 2000

* Run at April meeting