The County Hurdle, run over 2 miles 1 furlong on the New Course at Cheltenham, is usually subject to gambles a-plenty and this year’s renewal is unlikely to be any different. However, no favourite has won in the last 10 years and, with winners at 50/1, 25/1 and 20/1 three times in that period, the race is perfect for us, especially with ‘non-runner, no bet’ in operation with many leading bookmakers.
Vosne Romanee (33/1) earned himself a 13lb rise in the weights when winning at Perth in May, but showed improved form, leading on the bit at the last flight and drawing clear on the run-in to beat subsequent winner Curious Carlos by 6 lengths. The performance came on good to firm going, but Dr. Richard Newland’s 6-year-old has run well enough on good, good to soft and soft going to suggest he won’t be inconvenienced by slower underfoot conditions. The Arkan gelding takes a significant rise in class, but demonstrated his well-being by winning on the all-weather at Wolverhampton four weeks ago and is due to be ridden by Aidan Coleman, who’s 5-14 (36%) on the yard’s hurdlers in recent seasons.
Red Tornado (33/1) kept on strongly to win on his first attempt at Listed level at Market Rasen in May, but was well beaten, off an 8lb higher mark, over the same course and distance in September. He hasn’t run over hurdles since, but had a recent pipe-opener on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, has winning form on good to soft and soft going and has been dropped 2lb in the weights. It’s far too soon to be writing him off and he’s another who could go well at generous odds.
Selections: Vosne Romanee (33/1 with Betfair Sportsbook), Red Tornado (33/1 generally available)