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2019 County Hurdle tips - Two against the field for Friday's feature handicap hurdle

Brian Healy in Tips 14 Mar 2019

Brian Healy looks ahead to Friday's big handicap hurdle on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, and he picks out his two runners against the field for another competitive renewal of this classy contest.

Race two on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival is the hugely competitive County Hurdle which goes to post at 2.10pm, and the classy handicap contest is sure to deliver another enthralling renewal.

A maximum field of 26 runners will go to post for this contest which unfolds over a trip of 2m 1f and boasts a first prize in excess of £55,000, and past winners of this race include the likes of Mohaayed twelve months ago, as well as Arctic Fire, Wicklow Brave, Ted Veale and Final Approach.

Rooster Booster, who won this race in 2002 also went on to win the Champion Hurdle twelve months later, and while there may not be a Champion Hurdle contender in this field, the latest renewal of this race is sure not to disappoint.

Malaya could bid to land a bonus in this race having outpointed Monsieur Lecoq to win the Imperial Cup at Sandown last weekend; both horses however had a hard race at the Esher track and this could come plenty soon enough just six days on.

Willie Mullins has a decent record in this contest having won the race four times, most recently with Arctic Fire, and the County Carlow handler has claims of a fifth win with CUT THE MUSTARD (16/1, Paddy Power) looking to hold good claims of success in this competitive handicap contest.

The seven-year old is also in the Coral Cup on Wednesday, but this looks a more suitable test for the Al Namix mare who has shown some good form over hurdles, winning last season at Punchestown before twice being tried against Laurina.

While she cut little ice on both runs behind that rival, finishing sixth in last season’s Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at this meeting and then fallling at Fairyhouse next time, she was disappointing in a Listed contest when making her final start of the season at Punchestown.

However, she has returned this season in good heart, building on a promising seventh behind Wonder Laish to bag successive silver medals at Leopardstown behind Jetez and Sassy Diva respectively. That latter run saw her beaten just two lengths behind the winner who had previously chased home the potentially high-class Honeysuckle, and she could improve on that outing.

She wore a hood on that occasion, and headgear if applied again could have the same positive effect; while she may not be best handicapped, she looks to be going the right way over hurdles and the drop back to this trip looks in her favour with underfoot conditions unlikely to present a problem.

AR MEST (25/1, Ladbrokes) would be running from out of the weights if able to line up in this contest, but Gary Moore’s charge looks to hold decent claims of going close if he is able to take his chance, and the progressive Diamond Boy gelding could find another chunk of improvement to post a big run in this contest - assuming he gets in.

A heavy ground winner at Lingfield last Feburary, he fell on his next outing at Sandown prior to disappointing back there in April behind Ballymoy; but having returned from six months off he has shown better form switching to handicaps and having probably needed his reappearance at Sandown in November he has gone on to show solid and progressive form.

Third on his next outing at Lingfield, he subsequently posted back-to-back wins at Leicester and Newbury, beating Volpone Jelois on the latter occasion; but his latest run in the Betfair Hurdle where he finished fifth behind Al Dancer was an excellent run in the circumstances.

Despite carrying 5lbs extra, he was challenging and held every chance over the last hurdle before fading on the run in; but he was only beaten around seven lengths. He would need to find some improvement, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him do so and still with potential to do better still  he could find another chunk of progress to post a big effort if he gets into the contest.

2019 COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE TIPS - TWO AGAINST THE FIELD


CUT THE MUSTARD (20/1, Boylesport), AR MEST (25/1, Ladbrokes

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2019 County Hurdle tips - Two against the field for Friday's feature handicap hurdle

Brian Healy looks ahead to Friday's big handicap hurdle on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, and he picks out his two runners against the field for another competitive renewal of this classy contest.

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