Albert Bartlett Hurdle Tips 2017

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Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Spa Novices' Hurdle) (Grade 1)

  • 14:50
  • Cheltenham
2m 7f 213y

Race Preview

Albert Bartlett Hurdle Betting Tips

This year the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – also known as the Spa Novices’ Hurdle – will take place on Friday 17th March and will see the novice hurdlers take on just under three miles and 12 hurdles at Cheltenham Festival.

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Tips

Our tip for the 2017 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is Gordon Elliott’s Death Duty, who has won six of his eight starts under Rules as well as a three mile point to point earlier in his career.A top class bumper horse, he won a Listed Navan bumper and was never out of the top three in all four starts in that sphere. Swapped to hurdles, he has shown a natural fluency, with Gordon Elliott going as far as saying: “At this stage, of all good horses I have had, none of them were as good over hurdles.”

Having started his hurdling career by winning an 18 runner maiden hurdle at Navan, he has faced increasingly competitive company with each run, culminating in a nine length victory in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle in January. He took that by an impressive nine lengths, thanks to the fall of Augusta Kate, but jockey Jack Kennedy thought he had her covered.  The only real question mark over our tip is the ground, as he is unraced on faster than Yielding to Soft (he finished second to a subsequent Grade 1 bumper winner that day), but his pedigree suggests the ground won’t be an issue.

Still lightly raced, he has a rare mix of both pace and stamina, and his jumping was spotless last time out. He has improved with every run and, facing his stiffest test of stamina yet, we expect him to improve further and put in a huge performance for his in form trainer who has already had three Cheltenham Festival winners this year.

Albert Bartlett Hurdle Betting Trends

Here are the Albert Bartett Novice Hurdle betting trends to consider for the last 10 years:

  • All 10 of the previous 10 winners had already had at least 3 starts over hurdles (2010 winner Berties Dream had 13!)
  • 8 of the previous 10 winners were either 6 or 7 years old
  • 8 of the last 10 winners finished either 1st or 2nd on their last start before the Albert Barlett (the two exceptions were both 33/1 outsiders)
  • 8 of the last 10 winners finished 1st or 2nd in a National Hunt Flat race, with 5 winning one
  • Only 6 of the last 10 winners had previous experience over 3 miles or further
  • 5 of the last 10 winners had already won at Cheltenham previously
  • 4 of the previous 10 winners were Irish trained
  • Only 3 favourites have won the Albert Bartlett Hurdle in the last 10 years at odds of 15/8, 11/8 & 11/8.

Jonjo O’Neill took this race back in 2006 and 2007 with Black Jack Ketchum and Wichita Lineman respectively, making him the leading all time trainer for this race which was only added to the schedule back in 2005. It is also worth noting that this race was a Grade 2, not a Grade 1, until 2008. A P McCoy is the leading jockey with three wins, while Robert Thornton has won this race twice (first in 2005 and then again in 2008). Willie Mullins has never won this race and will be looking to add it to his burgeoning Cheltenham Festival titles collection.

Trends Analysis: The lack of three mile experience in general for previous winners, as well as the fact that two 33/1 horses have won this race in the last ten years (and only three favourites) means that it is worth looking for value in unexposed horses stepping up in trip. It is interesting that bumper winners often do well in this three mile contest, given that National Hunt Flat races are normally contested over just two miles. Previous Cheltenham winners are worth extra attention considering the fact that there will not have been many opportunities for novice hurdlers to have run at the track already.

Albert Bartlett Hurdle Preview

All of three miles (bar a step or two) await a huge field of novices in a race that seems sure to be run at a good clip from the off, resulting in even more of a stamina test for the hardy combatants. The Albert Bartlett market is one which will change multiple times over the coming weeks, with trainers often leaving the decision as to whether to run in the Albert Bartlett, the Neptune Novices Hurdle or even the Supreme Novices Hurdle until the last minute.

Now a general 9/4 chance for the race, Death Duty has really impressed this season for Gordon Elliott. Winner of three graded races, including on his latest start when knuckling down to win a Grade 1 at Naas. He was perhaps slightly fortunate that his main rival, Augusta Kate, came down at the final fence, although, as Gordon Elliot reported after the race, jockey Jack Kennedy was confident: “Jack [Kennedy] thought he had her covered and the one thing I do know is that he would have galloped all the way to the line. Our lad is a very good horse“. Regardless of whether he would have held that rival, it was still a good performance by a horse who is currently going from strength to strength, jumping with brilliant finesse and galloping much too strong for his rivals. The potential for him to step up to three miles is certainly an exciting prospect as he should improve for the extra distance and there is no telling how good he could be at present. Gordon Elliott is having a brilliant Festival thus far and this six year old looks likely to continue that with Bryan Cooper taking the ride.

Looking very green and wandering to the flight, Augusta Kate certainly did not deserve to come down at the final fence at Naas when against Death Duty in a Grade 1. Despite Jack Kennedy being confident he could hold her, Ruby Walsh had her in a very good position and she seemed to be travelling just as well as that rival. On only her second start over timber, it was a great performance nonetheless and she is sure to improve for it, with the prospect of a step back up in trip certain to suit after her maiden win at Thurles over 2m 7f, making all with ease. On evidence so far she seems more progressive than Death Duty, so the price difference of nearly 12 points with the Mullins mare lying at a best priced 14/1 in a market seems very generous. She is certainly dangerous to discount and could improve past the favourite, so she needs to be carefully watched on the run-up to the Festival.

A steady improver this season, Wholestone still remains with plenty of potential as a six-year-old. Winning a Grade 2 with seemingly a bit in hand over C&D in December, he showed that he has the speed and stamina required for an Albert Bartlett which tends to be an attritional race. That win also kept his unbeaten record in tact: now two wins from two starts on C&D as well as one win from two starts at Cheltenham. Although with something to find with Death Duty, if he continues to progress in his current vein he could be dangerous, especially with his stamina assured and good course form in the book.

Albert Bartlett Hurdle Results

In 2010 Berties Dream secured the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. The horse was a 33/1 shot for trainer Paul John Gilligan and went on to represent the trainer in the World Hurdle the following year. Berties Dream was prominently positioned by Andrew Lynch in the opening stages, the pace being set by fellow outsider Premier Victory. Lynch kept his ride to the inside, one of a handful of realistic challengers coming up to the penultimate.

Najaf, Restless Harry and Berties Dream all took the last on terms, with Restless Harry falling at the last. This left the two remaining leaders to trade blows in the straight, with Najaf being seen off by six lengths by the eventual winner and hold up horse Kennel Hill took third.

Bobs Worth gained his first Festival victory with a win in this race back in 2011; the Nicky Henderson mount was again ridden prominently, although on the outside of the pack in the initial exchanges. The horse was in touch in seventh with a circuit to go and moved up to challenge No Secrets at the fifth from home. There were many chances around the Dog Leg Turn and it looked as though Bobs Worth might have fallen heavily when hitting the third out hard.

He recovered to lead going over the penultimate hurdle, racing to the outside of Court In Motion and Mossley who both looked strong. The former emptied without warning, leaving Bobs Worth to put Mossley to the sword with a fluent jump over the last, his victory sealed by over two lengths, despite wandering when out in front.

Lucinda Russell trained Brindisi Breeze to glory in 2012, another front-running winner who challenged for the lead in the opening stages. Big Occasion, however, was not headed until the fourth from home where the eventual winner took control of proceedings.

The late Campbell Gillies and Brindisi Breeze were challenged by Meister Eckhart and A P McCoy prior to the penultimate hurdle; however they remained strong and went for home around the final turn. The hard ridden Boston Bob reduced the deficit to within half a length before the last, but the winner saw him off with a superior jump and ploughed on two lengths clear at the post.

Rebecca Curtis was the second successive female trainer to take the plaudits in 2013, with At Fishers Cross picking up the 2013 renewal.

His stablemate O’Faolain’s Boy was a reluctant early leader, with A P McCoy close up on the winning favourite. There was very little change after having ridden a circuit, though the field was two horses lighter after a pile up at the sixth. At Fishers Cross made a mistake at the third last but remained in touch and eventually took down O’faolain’s Boy in a pincer movement with African Gold. A better jump at the last, and with much more left in the straight, saw the favourite pull clear and finish four-and-a-half lengths to the good of his nearest rivals.

Very Wood saw Noel Meade collect his first win in the race in 2014; the 33/1 outsider was another who recorded an official winning distance of over four lengths. The five-year-old settled towards the rear in the opening stages and latched on to the back of the main pack of the field as fallers began to impede the stragglers as they made their way down the back of the course for the second time. The Gigginstown horse was four wide following these incidents, but was manoeuvred into fifth following the penultimate hurdle. Deputy Dan was the first to scalp long time leader Kings Palace, but Very Wood eventually responded to the slaps delivered by Paul Carberry and was well placed to head Oliver Sherwood’s charge as he made a meal of the last.

Following the big price winner in 2014, many were wary of the short price favourite, with Black Hercules sent off 5/2 favourite for Willie Mullins. It was not to be another win for the leading 2015 Cheltenham Festival trainer though, as he struggled home a long way back in 17th place, with the race going to Martello Tower for Ms Margaret Mullins. Ridden by A P Heskin, he saw the trip out on Soft ground all the way to the line, just holding off the Willie Mullins 33/1 chance Milsean in second and with No More Heroes chasing them home in third at 6/1. He was denied a clear run coming up to the last, hampered and having to be switched, and was perhaps an unlucky loser finishing just a length back. The stewards felt that Bryan Cooper should not have gone for the gap up the rail which led to the interference and, as such, no action was taken against the front two jockeys.

The J P McManus owned Unowhatimeanharry won the 2016 renewal for Harry Fry with Noel Fehily in the saddle. Sent off an 11/1 shot, the eight-year-old stayed up the hill in strong fashion to beat the gallant Fagan by just shy of two lengths. The form of that race was very solid as Champers On Ice and Barters Hill occupied third and fourth. Eight-year-old winners are quite a rare occurrence in the race, so it was a top performance from a very progressive horse.

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Runners

There are 103 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdles runners at the current entry stage:

  • Accord
  • Acting Lass
  • Al Boum Photo
  • Ami Desbois
  • Any Drama
  • Augustin
  • Aussie Reigns
  • Bacardys
  • Baden
  • Ballyarthur
  • Ballymalin
  • Ballymountain Boy
  • Baltazar D’Allier
  • Battleford
  • Belmont Park
  • Beneagles
  • Black Key
  • Blood Crazed Tiger
  • Blue Rambler
  • Bon Papa
  • Bravissimo
  • C’est Jersey
  • Caro Des Flos
  • Castello Sforza
  • Catamaran Du Seuil
  • Champagne Classic
  • Chateau Conti
  • Cilaos Emery
  • Constantine Bay
  • Criq Rock
  • Dashing Perk
  • Death Duty
  • De Dollar Man
  • Duel At Dawn
  • Eamon An Cnoic
  • Electric Concorde
  • Elegant Escape
  • El Terremoto
  • Fountains Windfall
  • Gayebury
  • Geordie Des Champs
  • Get On The Yager
  • Global Stage
  • Impulsive Star
  • Invitation Only
  • Jerrysback
  • Justmemyselfandi
  • Kemboy
  • Kk Lexion
  • Lakeside Castle
  • Laser Light
  • Le Breuil
  • Livelovelaugh
  • Loughaderra Prince
  • Lough Derg Farmer
  • Minella Awards
  • Monalee
  • Monbeg Charmer
  • Monbeg Notorious
  • Montalbano
  • Moulin A Vent
  • Mr Champers
  • Mr Clarkson
  • Mr McGo
  • New To This Town
  • No Hassle Hoff
  • Overland Flyer
  • Over To Sam
  • Peace News
  • Penhill
  • Peregrine Run
  • Pleasant Company
  • Poetic Rhythm
  • Rathnure Rebel
  • Report To Base
  • Robinroyale
  • Rocklander
  • Runfordave
  • Saturnas
  • Scoir Mear
  • Scotchtown
  • Sire Du Berlais
  • Skipthecuddles
  • Some Kinda Lama
  • Step Back
  • The Storyteller
  • The Worlds End
  • Tin Soldier
  • Tommy Rapper
  • Turcagua
  • West Approach
  • Wholestone
  • Willoughby Court
  • Windshear
  • Wishmoor
  • Woods Well
  • Augusta Kate
  • Barra
  • Colin’s Sister
  • Let’s Dance
  • Ms Parfois
  • Sword Fighter
  • Young Dillon