10th - 13th March

14:10 Cheltenham 13 Mar 2020

Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle

Grade 3 | Class 1 | 5YO plus

Winner £56,270 - 24 ran

2m 179y

Soft (Good to Soft in places)

Draw Advantage: None

Gary Nutting
by Gary Nutting

Published 5th March

COUNTISTER looks fair value to run a big race again in the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle.

Nicky Henderson’s mare ran a blinder in this 12 months ago, returning from a year’s absence to finish third to race-fit, more experienced geldings Ch’tibello and We Have A Dream (the latter her stablemate).

She was probably still feeling the effects of that massive effort when disappointing at Fairyhouse the following month, but shaped encouragingly enough on her reappearance to finish seventh to Harambe in the Greatwood back over this course and distance.

Her owner/trainer’s second string that day (JP McManus had a better fancied runner from the yard in fifth-placed Dame De Compagnie, the choice of Barry Geraghty), she then got bogged down in heavy ground at Ascot in another hot handicap (won by Not So Sleepy).

On the plus side her handicap mark has dropped 6lb this season, so she’s only 2lb higher than a year ago, and she’s been freshened up since Christmas presumably with this repeat bid in mind on ground that ought to be more in her favour.

LEONCAVALLO might prove interesting at an even bigger price, having run too free (also lost a hind shoe) when finishing mid-division in last year’s renewal.

The eight-year-old is set to run off a pound lower mark here on what would be his debut for David Pipe after leaving Dr Richard Newland’s yard following his fourth to Not So Sleepy at Ascot in November.

Therein lies the angle for possible improvement (and it’s no disrespect to his former trainer) because the gelding has had four previous stable changes, his record on first run back reading 1121 plus he’s got meaningful big-handicap form having finished third in the 2018 Galway Hurdle.

Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo

Previous Winners

2019Ch'tibelloD SkeltonHarry Skelton8 11-512/1
2018MohaayedD SkeltonBridget Andrews (3)6 10-833/1
2017Arctic FireW P MullinsP Townend8 11-1220/1
2016Superb StoryD SkeltonHarry Skelton5 10-128/1
2015Wicklow BraveW P MullinsP Townend6 11-425/1
2014Lac FontanaP F NichollsD A Jacob5 10-1111/1
2013Ted VealeA J MartinB J Cooper6 10-610/1
2012AlderwoodT MullinsA P McCoy8 11-120/1
2011Final ApproachW P MullinsR Walsh5 10-1210/1
2010 Thousand Stars W P Mullins Ms K Walsh (3) 6 10-5 20/1
2009 American Trilogy P F Nicholls R Walsh 5 11-0 20/1
2008 Silver Jaro T Hogan N Fehily 5 10-13 50/1
2007PedrobobA MullinsP A Carberry9 10-012-1
2006Desert QuestP F NichollsR Walsh6 10-104-1jf
2005FontanesiM C PipeT Murphy5 10-016-1
2004SporazeneP F NichollsR Walsh5 10-137-1jf
2003Spirit LeaderMrs J HarringtonB Geraghty7 11-710-1
2002Rooster BoosterP J HobbsR Johnson8 11-18-1
2001No Race
2000Master TernJ O'NeillT Dobbin5 10-39-2f
1999Sir TalbotJ A B OldT Murphy5 10-010-1
1998Blowing WindM C PipeA P McCoy5 11-815-8f
1997Barna BoyN J HendersonR Dunwoody9 10-1214-1

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