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County Hurdle tips for March's Grade 3 race. Fast and furious, this is always a proper test, with a little extra class or stamina no bad thing for this race. Read on for our free betting tips, predictions and analysis.

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IN SUMMARY: Always a competitive race but this year’s renewal can be settled by WHISKEY SOUR, who has some very smart novice form on offer. His latest fourth to Samcro at Leopardstown was a very good effort and a combination of a stiffer test in his ideal conditions should prove too potent for his rivals to handle.

J: Daniel Sansom T: Seamus Mullins
Excelled in big handicaps towards the end of last season, now three pounds below his mark when scoring in the Scottish Champion Hurdle in April 2017. He’s had a good preparation run on the flat since. He’d probably have preferred better ground, but off such a workable mark he has to merit some consideration.
J: Harry Skelton T: Dan Skelton
Has placed in two difficult handicaps the last twice, third in the Betfair Hurdle last month. He arrives off the same mark and this stiffer stamina test is a definite help for him. He wouldn’t need to improve much to be involved from an each way perspective and he’s considered as such.
All Set To Go
J: Jamie Bargary T: Kevin Frost
Has not been seen for 461 days which is an immediate negative, making his stable debut in a race where his stamina has to be niggle on this sort of ground. It’s very easy to look elsewhere despite this mark being fair on his best.
Flying Tiger
J: Noel Fehily T: Nick Williams
Won the Fred Winter at last year’s Festival, running well in defeat this season. His latest fourth in a competitive Grade 2 was a very good run and he now reverts back to handicaps. A strongly run race is ideal as it helps him settle and he’s got each way claims off a fair mark, though others do look better handicapped.
Divin Bere
J: Sam Twiston-Davies T: Paul Nicholls
Second in the Fred Winter twelve months ago but has been hugely disappointing the last twice, including in the Betfair Hurdle last month. He’s on a good mark if you look at his previous Festival run, but the first-time tongue-tie needs to work miracles for him. Too much to take on trust now.
Ben Dundee
J: Davy Russell T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Running well in similar races prior to a disappointing run at Leopardstown last time, which stopped his progressive profile. He is surely capable of better, but that run does leave a question mark about this current rating. He stays further so stamina is no problem, but others are preferred on balance.
J: Bridget Andrews T: Dan Skelton
Finished seventh in this race twelve months ago off five pounds lower, running two solid races in defeat the last twice. He’s won on softer ground previously so that shouldn’t be an issue, though his handicap mark may well be. Others preferred on this occasion.
William H Bonney
J: Wayne Hutchinson T: Alan King
Has some respectable form in the book including a course and distance victory off only a pound lower. He’s found things tough going of late in similar events, well held in the Betfair last time despite finishing eighth. Against some unexposed, progressive horses, he does look decidedly vulnerable.
J: Jamie Moore T: Gary Moore
Very lightly raced seven year old who has been well held the last twice, including in a weaker race than this at Fontwell last time. He’s a long way out of the weights and makes no appeal.
Brahms De Clermont
J: Harry Cobden T: Paul Nicholls
Three wins over hurdles last year but as a consequence, he arrives here off a very stiff mark on his best. He’ll handle the ground and he stays well, but off this sort of mark it’s hard to see him getting competitive.
Duca De Thaix
J: J. W. Kennedy T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Lightly raced five year old who has only run three times for this yard. He was well held by Sandsend on his latest start though and the weights still aren’t in his favour now they switch to handicaps. There is possibly more to come, but there needs to be on what we know so far.
Smaoineamh Alainn
J: James Best T: Robert Walford
Arrives on a four-timer after winning all three of her starts over timber thus far, the latest of which over course and distance in December. This is a much tougher race and the handicapper has taken no prisoners with an eight pound rise. She may have more to offer though and her reaching the frame isn’t out of the question.
Bleu Et Rouge
J: Barry Geraghty T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Has returned to his very best this season, placing in two Grade 3 handicaps the last twice. He’s now eight pounds higher but this stiffer test should suit his hold up style. He may have more to offer and he’s considered for at least a place.
Whiskey Sour
J: D. J. Mullins T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Career best effort when fourth to Samcro at Leopardstown last month, making his handicap debut off an interesting mark. He shaped as though a stiffer test would really suit that day and he’s got some of the best novice form on offer. Ground conditions are ideal and he should prove tough to peg back.
J: D. E. Mullins T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Won twice over timber earlier this season and wasn’t necessarily disgraced when third in Grade 3 company last time. He now finds himself on a very tough mark back in handicaps and others look far better handicapped at present.
Le Richebourg
J: Mark Walsh T: Joseph Patrick O'Brien, Ireland
Five year old who won his first three hurdling starts, but has found it tough going since. This is much easier than his recent assignments and he shaped extremely well earlier in his career. Impossible to discount now he finds himself in handicap company.
Tigris River
J: Jody McGarvey T: Joseph Patrick O'Brien, Ireland
Has been solidly out of form this season, well beaten in a Leopardstown handicap last month. His mark hasn’t come down as much as you’d have liked and Geraghty understandably deserts him for Bleu Et Rouge. Looks vulnerable.
Ivanovich Gorbatov
J: J. J. Slevin T: Joseph Patrick O'Brien, Ireland
Last win came in the 2016 Triumph Hurdle, struggling in the main since in handicap company. He was extremely disappointing at Leopardstown last time and despite his sliding mark, he’s very difficult to fancy at present against some in form horses.
J: James Bowen T: Nicky Henderson
Two great victories in tough handicaps before flopping badly as the favourite in the Betfair Hurdle last time. He’s now even higher in the weights and judging by that run, he’s probably got more than his fair share now. Others preferred on balance.
Meri Devie
J: P. Townend T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Five year old mare who was second in a Grade A Handicap off three pounds lower, winning a Listed Hurdle at Punchestown last time. That should have got her confidence up and she’s on a fair mark on the best of her form. She’s still lightly raced and not discounted for top connections.
A Hare Breath
J: Daryl Jacob T: Ben Pauling
Ten year old who has only run nine times over timber, winning a Listed Handicap at Sandown last time. He’s now six pounds higher but he’s got a good record fresh and his break since that run is a plus. Softer ground is no concern and he’s got an each way shout.
J: Mark Enright T: Gordon Elliott, Ireland
Sixth in the Neptune at last year’s Festival but he’s not progressed over fences this year, hence why he’s back over timber. He’s on a useful mark for his handicap debut but does need to return to his very best, but that couldn’t be entirely discounted. He’s an each way contender.
Moon Racer
J: Tom Scudamore T: David Pipe
Won the 2015 Champion Bumper but has gone sharply backwards in recent times. He was well beaten in the Betfair Hurdle last month and never left the midfield. In a tougher race off the same mark, it’s very easy to look elsewhere.
J: Richard Johnson T: Philip Hobbs
Finished a close up sixth in the race in 2016, but his mark has really taken a towelling since. He’s been chasing this season and returns to timber after a break off a very stiff mark. He got no margin for error and looks vulnerable to a more progressive rival.
J: Ms K. Walsh T: W. P. Mullins, Ireland
Has only three hurdling runs under his belt, with two of those in Ireland. He overcame inexperience to just last home in a Naas Grade 3 in January. He makes his handicap debut off a fair mark and he should have more to offer. Has to be respected, though his lack of experience is cause for some concern in a big field affair.
J: Harry Reed T: Chris Gordon
Consistent nine year old who was second at Lingfield eleven days ago, though that was a much weaker race than this. He can be keen enough in his races and off a career high mark, he shouldn’t be good enough here.
Non Runners
I Shot The Sheriff
J: Non Runner T: Fergal O'Brien

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