THE second race is a tough handicap for hurdlers. We got Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) to preview it for us.
Cheltenham 14:05 | County Hurdle | Channel 4
I'm all for change to make things better, being able to gamble on your mobile, supermarkets delivering your shopping to your door or adding fruit to cider for example, but the County Hurdle should have remained the last race of the festival.
Now I've got that off my chest let's have a look at the race. Another minefield handicap, the traditional ‘getting out' stakes is now race two. Looking through the field. I've come up with a couple of horses that should run big races.
The favourite, the Tony Martin trained Quick Jack falls in to the ‘could be anything' category. He hasn't jumped a hurdle in public in over a year and hasn't been seen on a racetrack since being beaten 3/4 of a length when favourite for the Cesarewitch.
He's won a handicap hurdle at the Galway Festival and over course and distance, so the big field and conditions hold no fear for him. There are few trainers who can rival Tony Martin when it comes to plotting a big handicap/betting coup, and this screams out as another waiting to happen.
The biggest ride of Shane Shortalls career, he has won on the horse before, and his 5lb claim could prove invaluable in a tight handicap.
Just in case Tony Martin doesn't pull off another Cheltenham raid I'm going to have a small saver on Cheltenian. A winner of the bumper here in 2011 he was pulled up in this last year when sent off favourite.
He never settled that day, and ran a respectable race before weakening rapidly late on. His second in the Betfair Hurdle latest was a huge step in the right direction and I expect him to run a much better race this year where he's a good each way bet at 14/1