Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle: 2m 1f, Friday, March 17, 2:10pm
Key Stat: Willie Mullins has trained three of the last seven Irish winners in nine years
Vincent O’Brien saddled 23 winners at the Festival and the race named in his honour has seen Irish-trained horses dominate with seven of the last nine victors (Willie Mullins responsible for three of those) hailing from the Emerald Isle.
The Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown in mid-January won easily this year by Henry Higgins (trained by Vincent O’Brien’s son, Charles) is the best guide from either side of The Irish Sea with five of the last seven Irish-trained winners emerging from this.
The home resistance has been led by four-time winning trainer Paul Nicholls. In particular, take note of his novices having saddled three of those to win and two more to finish second.
Jockey-wise it may pay to follow Paddy Power columnist Ruby Walsh who has a 33 per cent strike rate after guiding four of the last 12 winners’ home.
The winning formula has been relatively simple of late in that first or second-season hurdlers officially rated in the 130s have won 10 of the last 12 renewals, with novices having won eight of the last 22 contests.