Cheltenham 2016 – County Hurdle ante post preview

CeeBee has an early ante post bet for the County Hurdle and it is the Alan Fleming trained, Barry Connell owned Blue Hell at 20/1.

Blue Hell – Goes straight to the County Hurdle and if he gets there in one piece, he’ll be a single figure price on the day.

The French bred son of Russian Blue has had just the one run this season. In late November he defeated Diamond King by an effortless 3 lengths in a Fairyhouse handicap hurdle. Diamond King, who looked well handicapped at the time, won easily next time out - last weekend. The 4th home, Keppols Queen won a mares grade 3 by a wide margin next time out. The 6th home, Good as Gold (beaten 19L) won a similar handicap hurdle next time out. As handicap hurdle form goes – it is absolutely top drawer. As an aside; After Rain will be trying to give the form another boost in the handicap hurdle on Sunday.

Now Blue Hell did get raised 17lbs for that effort. If you can watch a replay of his Fairyhouse win, I think you’ll agree the way he travelled into the race, against capable opponents suggests he’s a great deal more than a 140s horse. Connections (Alan Fleming for Barry Connell) put him in the Lanzarote hurdle, but that was solely to see what mark he would get in the UK. They then didn’t declare him and said he’d be kept fresh, with his hurdle mark intact, until the County Hurdle in Cheltenham.

The County Hurdle is a good race for Irish trainers in recent years. 4 of the last 5 winners and 3 second placed efforts also. I’m still not sure how Arctic Fire got beat in 2014? Alan Fleming may not be a well-known name, but he is having a tremendous breakout season in Ireland. A Cheltenham Festival winner would be no surprise.

As I mentioned in the Grand Annual ante-post piece I wrote last week; it is very early to be getting involved in Festival Handicaps, but just like Next Sensation,  Blue Hell isn’t going to run again before then and his price has already contracted with various firms so it’s advisable to play early.

Advised Bet

2 points win Blue Hell at 20/1 with Racebets - 16/1 with Bet365, Stan James and WilliamHill