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Blood Cotil the County Hurdle dark horse

The County Hurdle is one of the most competitive handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival, but Blood Cotil has an interesting profile for the contest and looks decent value at the 16/1 on offer with Coral.

Irish-trained runners have won six out of the last seven runnings, and their champion trainer Willie Mullins has a particularly good record in recent years.

The County Carlow handler struck with Thousand Stars in 2010 and Final Approach in 2011, and his Tennis Cap was just denied in last year’s contest by fellow Irish raider Ted Veale.

He has no less than 12 entries in this year’s contest, but Blood Cotil is the one that really interests us.

The five-year-old had some useful form to his name as a juvenile last season, winning twice and finishing a nine-length fourth to subsequent Triumph Hurdle winner Our Conor in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown.

He then ran a very good race at the Festival when finishing sixth of 24 to Flaxen Flare in the Fred Winter, before rounding of his campaign with a win in a Grade 3 contest at Auteuil.

The gelding has had just two starts this season, falling in a beginners’ chase at Cork two from home, when having the race at his mercy and then finishing 10th of 24 to Gilgamboa in the Boylesports.com Hurdle at Leopardstown when having his attention switched back to the smaller obstacles.

He wasn’t knocked about in the latter, and was allowed to come home in his own time after finding himself short of room on the home turn.

That race has proved a key trial for the County Hurdle, with five of the last seven Irish-trained winners having competed in it.

Blood Cotil has also been dropped 1lb to a mark of 140, and is set to meet Flaxen Flare on 26lb better terms compared to when they met in the Fred Winter 12 months ago.

Another plus is his age, as five-year-olds have won eight of the last 14 runnings of the race.

The fact that he also has previous Festival form to his name also looks a big positive.

He does also hold an entry in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, but you can back him for the County with Coral knowing that you will get your many back if he chooses that option as they are now Non Runner No Bet on every race at the Festival.