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Cheltenham County Hurdle tips: (1410) Trends pinpoint Westport Cove and Bialystok for each-way value

Fresh from landing a tasty 25/1 winner with Monmiral on Thursday, our red-hot trends tipster Andrew of Fiosrach looks to round the week off with another tasty winner in this wide-open handicap hurdle.

14:10 - McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle (2 miles 179 yards)

In days gone by the County Hurdle was the finale of the Festival, but these days this competitive 23-runner handicap is an ideal appetitiser for Cheltenham’s showpiece later in the afternoon. 

Planet Sport Bet: Bet £20+ cash on any runner in the race and if Pied Piper finishes in the first 4 places, get a £5 Free Bet!

I have used the trends below to narrow the field and hopefully end the Festival with a winner or at least a decent place return:

Positive trends

  • 18/23 were novices or second season hurdlers
  • 14/18 were rated in the 130’s
  •   9/16 returned 20/1 or bigger
  •   7/15 had run fewer than 7 hurdles races
  • 13/18 were aged 5 or 6 years old
  • 12/ 25 were aged 5
  •   7/10 had run at Cheltenham before
  • 11/17 winners were Irish-trained
  •   9/16 started their careers in France
  • 14/18 were priced in double-figures
  • 13/20 winners began their careers on the flat
  • 10 winners since 2002 ran in the Ladbrokes or Betfair Hurdles
  • 12/23 came from the top 5 in the betting
  • 12/17 winners did NOT win last time out
  •     5/8 winners had not raced in the last 72 days
  • Look for Mullins, Skelton, AJ Martins & Nicholls-trained runners
  • Paul Nicholls is 4 from 32 (+15pts)
  • Willie Mullins is 4 from 52 (+36.25pts)
  • Willie Mullins has won 6 of the last 14 runnings
  • Trainer Dan Skelton has trained 4 of the last 8 winners

Negative trends

  • Strangely, previous course winners have a bad record
  • Only 2 winners since 2000 had a mark of 150+
  • Gordon Elliott has a poor record (0-from 20) since 2011
  • Nicky Henderson has a poor record (0-36) this century
  • Horses aged 9+ are 0 from 38 in last 16 runnings
  • Since 1960 only 5 winners carried more than 11st 2lb
  • Since 1961, only 10 winners had run at the Festival before
  • Since 2005, just 2 winners rated 146 this season
  • Avoid runners that had not raced at least 4 times that season
  • Avoid horses making their handicap debuts, although last 2 winners have defied this stat
  • Just 2 winning outright favourites in last 22
  • Just 3 of the last 16 winners returned a single-figure price.

Afadil represents the home challenge and Paul Nicholls has a decent record in this race over the years. He is more exposed than most recent winners but gets in here on a nice weight with Freddie Gingell taking off another five pounds. 

That makes Afadil attractive on a low weight close to his last winning mark. The problem is he is up against the Mullins machine, which produces runners closer to Graded horses than handicappers.

One of those is Westport Cove, who finished well beaten in the Champion Bumper last season and has been tried at Grade 1 and Listed level over hurdles but has not won in four attempts. 

He has not run in handicap company previously, which until the last two runnings was a negative. Willie Mullins trained as are two others on the shortlist.

Suggested bet: Westport Cove each-way in the 14:10 at Cheltenham


Absurde was good enough on the Flat to finish seventh in the Melbourne Cup as well as landing the Ebor. If this were run on ground better than soft, I think Absurde would be a very strong favourite, but even if the weather is kind it is still likely to be soft on Friday.

Bialystok is the final Willie Mullins horse to make our shortlist and has been highly tried and would probably have won a Listed race last time as he was cruising before being brought down. He has a bit more experience than some of these and has won two races in big fields, which is a positive.

Suggested bet: Bialystok each-way in the 14:10 at Cheltenham


Willie Mullins and Dan Skelton have a superb record in recent years, having won this race ten times between them. Dan Skelton’s two runners Faivoir and L’Eau Du Sud were both ruled out on the trends, but I do think both are capable of winning.

Based on the trends alone I am suggesting each-way bets on Bialystok and Westport Cove to cap off another triumphant week for Willie Mullins.

READ MORE: Cheltenham Festival ITV racing tips: Best bets for Day Four on Thursday March 15

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