THE Voice Of Value (@TheVoiceOfValue) is on hand to dissect the always competitive County Hurdle.
Cheltenham 14:10 | County Handicap Hurdle| ITV1
A very exciting race this but your race can be over before it has begun here and it’s not a race that I like to steam in heavily for given the level of unpredictability.
There are cracking horses in the field, right up and down the handicap and you will no doubt hear a case being made for any number of horses. I reckon there are about 11 in the field that I thought had a sniff so that makes it tricky and you can start to overthink things.
Stripping it down to the basics might be helpful. Some of the basics for me in a handicap like this are (a) potentially well-handicapped horses, (b) form over course and distance, (c) form at the festival, (d) trainer form and sometimes (e) the jockey.
There are other bits and pieces but that’s the gist of it. I won’t bore you with a runner-by-runner breakdown on those criteria but safe to say there are a few that fit the bill.
North Hill Harvey (8/1 10BET) is one of them, winner over course and distance in December and unlucky not to finish closer in last year’s Champion Hurdle, he is almost certainly underrated in handicap terms.
Course and distance winner
Ivanovich Gorbatov is intriguing, having won the Triumph Hurdle last year (course and distance win) but not really done anything of note since then. Was that a flash in the pan or will he return to that form? I’m not convinced but it would hardly be a surprise.
Winter Escape is a horse for which there has been a lot of noise in recent days and weeks. He has only ever had four runs, just one of which was this year but that was a tame effort at Cheltenham in December and I think I need to see more from him to indicate that he has kicked on from his first season. Big race experience can also be useful and he is lacking in that department.
Diego Du Charmil (18/1 10BET) is another one I can’t ignore. Winner of the Fred Winter last year over course and distance, he is now a good bit higher in the weights so it’s probably not fair to say that he is well handicapped but that is built into the price and he still has potential to improve. No doubt he has been aimed at the festival again by Paul Nicholls and he could repeat last year’s success.
The two I’m going with are Harvey and Diego because they have course and distance form which is invaluable and both have a bit of class about them. I’m particularly keen on Harvey because a friend of mine who is a good judge in these sort of races thought Harvey would win but hasn’t backed him. You can guarantee he will bolt up now.