The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is open to horses aged four or older and is scheduled to start at 14:50 on the fourth day of action at the Cheltenham Festival this year. It is run over three miles and there are twelve flights of hurdles to be jumped. Looking back, the race has produced some top-quality horses who have gone onto much better things including The Nice Guy, Bobs Worth, Unowhatimeanharry, Penhill, Minella Indo and of course Monkfish.
This is a race where the favourites have a historically bad record. Only one of the last ten has won (At Fishers Cross in 2013). There has only been one eight-year-old winner of the race. The remainder have been aged five to seven. Since its inception in 2005, Willie Mullins has won the race three times and the likes of Gordon Elliott of Paul Nicholls have never won it.
Jonjo O’Neill has won the race twice with the likes of Black Jack Ketchum in 2006 and Wichita Lineman in 2007. Guaranteed stamina over three miles is a valuable asset as twelve of the last thirteen winners had previously won over the trip.
Stepped up to three miles last time out and won literally doing handstands. He saw off Kilbree Warrior by an impressive thirty-five lengths. Willie Mullins sees him as a real chasing type but the form of that last win has not worked out at all. He may just have been best on the day. Yet to prove it at the highest level but no surprise if he does given his yard’s record in the race.
Three Card Brag
Has been beaten in lesser events than this and beginning to look exposed at the very top level. He did put his head in front in what was literally an egg and spoon race at Fairyhouse at the end of January beating Spanish Harlem by a dozen lengths. It is just very hard to see him figure here given the talent pool on offer.
This horse is improving at a rate of knots and put in a power-packed display when handing out a six-length beating to Martha Devine in a handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse in mid-January. He certainly improved for the step up in trip and has recently left the yard of Eugene O’Sullivan to be trained by Emmett Mullins. There is more improvement to come without a shadow of a doubt and he is an intriguing contender.
Needs to improve dramatically from what we have seen so far. He was beaten at odds-on when last seen out at Clonmel in a three-mile Grade two race. He was a grade three winning hurdler at Cork last season and he may well have just needed the run, but others are far more experienced already and this would be an adventure into the unknown.
Again he needs to improve and take another step forward. There was nothing wrong with his placed effort in a Grade One at the Dublin Racing Festival where bumped into Good Land. Paul Nolan will be pleased with what he saw and may feel that this extra couple of furlongs will suit his six-year-old gelding. He cannot be ruled out and may well play a part in the proceedings here.
Favori De Champdou
Has won his last three races with the minimum of fuss and all over this trip and looks to be Gordon Elliott’s best chance of ending his hoodoo in this particular race. He took the step up into Grade two company in his stride when seeing off the well-regarded Letsbeclearaboutit. All of his best form has come with plenty of give in the ground and the form has already been franked by the runner-up. Definitely not out of this.
Improved dramatically from his first to his second start this season and put a dent in the aspirations of Hiddenvalley Lake last time out at Clonmel. Minella Indo used that same race as a stepping stone to success here and no surprise if this Henry De Bromhead-trained runner follows in the footsteps of his former stablemate.
Won a maiden hurdle by twenty-two lengths but has something to find with a couple of these including Favori De Champdou and Hiddenvalley Lake. Needs to take another step forward but, clearly, she is going the right way and may play a small part.
Selected Ante-post Prices
Corbett’s Cross 9/2, Hiddenvalley Lake 11/2, Three Card Brag 7/1, Embassy Gardens 7/1, Sandor Clegane 10/1, Favori De Champdou 10/1, Monty’s Star 12/1. Letsbeclearaboutit 14/1
8 of the past 11 winners either won or were placed in a bumper race
6 of the last 8 winners were Irish trained
13 of the last 17 winners finished first or second last time out
Monty’s Star looks like the right type that can carry on his improvement. It was something of a shock that he turned over his better-fancied stablemate the other week, but he is clearly a smart type. His trainer took the same route with Minella Indo back in 2019 and it could well pay dividends. Corbetts Cross is a likeable type and could well give the selection something to think about and Gordon Elliott seems to hold stronger claims this time around with Favori De Champdou.
Punters Lounge Tip: Monty’s Star E/W @ 25/1 @ BetVictor
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All odds are correct at the time of writing.