‘He has won two jumpers’ bumpers and will relish a sound surface’
FRIDAY MCCOY CONTRACTORS COUNTY H’CAP HURDLE
JOSH DOWN 1. Magic Tricks 2. Edwardstone 3. Tiger Tap Tap Magic Tricks could be flying under the radar. A brother to Abacadabras, he has run okay in some decent novice events in Ireland this season. Most recently he kept on nicely in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown and his British handicap mark should be closely monitored. Edwardstone has finished close up in this season’s Greatwood and Betfair Hurdles and can give another good account. Tiger Tap Tap could go well at a bigger price, his form isn’t bad at all and he’s steadily falling down the weights. SAM HARDY 1. Third Time Lucki 2. Edwardstone 3. Christopher Wood Trainer Dan Skelton has another good chance of winning the race with Third Time Lucki, who was fourth in last year’s Champion Bumper. If it were not for a final-flight mistake at Musselburgh last time out connections could have been aiming their gelding towards the Supreme but will now try to take advantage of their current handicap mark. The Alan King-trained Edwardstone ran a blinder in the Betfair Hurdle and should be thereabouts if repeating that performance. JACK HAYNES 1. Proschema 2. Edwardstone 3. Lucky One Proschema may have to win beforehand to make the cut but would really catch the eye from the bottom of the weights if lining up. Dan Skelton has won three of the last five runnings of this handicap hurdle and Proschema can fulfil his promise on better ground. He was only 5-1 for the Greatwood in which he pulled up but has won two jumpers’ bumpers since and will relish a sound surface. Edwardstone boasts some solid form, including at Cheltenham, and has each-way claims. BEN HUTTON 1. Eclair De Beaufeu 2. Dysart Diamond 3. Saint D’oroux Last season’s Grand Annual runner-up Eclair De Beaufeu has a lower mark to work with over hurdles and has run some promising races in that discipline this winter. He ran well in this race in 2019 (unseated at the final flight) and his proven festival form is a big plus. Dysart Diamond has a few different entries but Cheltenham’s stiff 2m1f should bring out the best in her. TOM PARK 1. Galopin Des Champs 2. Third Time Lucki 3. Edwardstone No trainer other than Willie Mullins or Dan Skelton has won the County Hurdle in the last six runnings so it would be foolish to discount any of their runners. Preference is for Galopin Des Champs, who has been slightly disappointing this season, but produced a much better run when sixth in Grade 1 company last time. He is crying out for a strongly run two miles and should get it here. Third Time Lucki is another who will appreciate the race and is a big player should connections opt for this. MADDY PLAYLE 1. Fifty Ball 2. Drop The Anchor 3. Saldier The shape of this race will depend on how many of those towards the top of the market take in the Supreme. More experienced horses have had a good record in this race in the past (Ch’tibello, Mohaayed, Arctic Fire, Wicklow Brave) so it would be interesting if Willie Mullins opts to run Saldier here rather than in the Champion Hurdle, but I’d expect the novices to hold the key.