Due to take place on the fourth and final day of the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (registered Spa Novices’ Hurdle) is a Grade 1 event run over three miles.
In the past it has often proven a useful race to source a future RSA Chase winner from with both Weapons Amnesty and Bob’s Worth both doing the double in recent years, sadly Brindisi Breeze won’t be able to attempt the double after a freak accident ended his life shortly after his success at Cheltenham.
Since the inception of this race in 2005, all eight winners have been ridden handily throughout the race so I think it’ll pay to focus on those to the forefront with assured stamina at the distance.
A few key stats to keep an eye on before making a selection;
- Six of the last 8 winners have prior course form.
- Six of the last 8 winners had contested a race over three miles.
- Seven of the last 8 winners were in the front five in the betting market.
- All 8 winners of the race had previously run three times or more over hurdles.
At Fishers Cross
Oscar (IRE) (13.7f) — Fermoy Supreme (IRE) (Supreme Leader (12.4f))
Notes: The antepost favourite with majority of the firms at this stage, the gelded son of Oscar has improved with each run throughout this campaign, culminating in a fast and late effort to wear down The New One (Neptune Novices Hurdle) in the shadows of the post last time. A winner over three miles with course form he looks to have a solid favourites chance in a race which has been confirmed his target by Rebecca Curtis (29th Jan 2013). The only slight concern would be his lack of a run on decent ground which we could encounter Festival week and as I’ve already missed the boat in regards price, I’ll allow this one to go and win and take my chances elsewhere.
Presenting (14.2f) — Pink Mist (IRE) (Montelimar (USA) (11.5f))
Notes: A horse that is absolutely laden with stamina, this looks a logical target for the son of Presenting. Hailing from the stable that saddled the second in this race last year with Boston Bob, he has looked impressive over shorter distances on his two starts over hurdles (which yielded two victories) and one can only expect improvement when upped in trip. His prominent racing style will also stand him in good stead in a race which history dictates it is essential to be on the pace, and he goes with a big chance.
Cloudings (IRE) (12.2f) — Copper Supreme (IRE) (Supreme Leader (12.4f))
Notes: Very much an unknown quantity in the race, and connections combined to land this race back in 2006 with Black Jack Ketchum. Unfancied in the market when making a winning hurdling debut at Exeter, he returned an even more impressive performance when despatching the useful handicap chaser Hold On Julio on his most recent start at Kempton. Certainly doesn’t look like he’ll lack for stamina and looks the type to improve for better ground even though he is untried on anything quicker than soft. He is very much a dark horse and has to be respected.
Dom Alco (FR) — Fee Magic (FR) (Phantom Breeze (8.8f))
Notes: A full-brother to very useful staying hurdler Grands Crus, he has plenty of similarities to his brother in both his looks and running style. A winner last time of a handicap hurdle in ready fashion off 130, he heads into the Festival rated 145 and will need to improve further to have a say. Holds a provisional entry in the Neptune Novices Hurdle but this looks like being his target, but isn’t one I can get too excited about in truth.
Karinga Bay (12.7f) — Plaid Maid (IRE) (Executive Perk (IRE) (10.8f))
Notes: Bred to stay longer than the mother-in-law so I was slightly disappointed by the way he weakened at the business end last time out behind At Fishers Cross and The New One, however I’m willing to give him another chance. The ground was very sticky and holding the last day and he went a fair enough pace out in front against decent horses, and his rider Mattie Bachelor later reported that “he didn’t handle the extreme ground.” He is due to line up at Haydock on February 16th for the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle before heading to The Festival in March, hopefully he’ll be able to return to form with another bold front-running display, and head to the Festival with his reputation back intact.
Ponte Alexandre is fairly short in this market and on all known form would hold serious claims from what I’ve seen of him, however he holds an entry in the Neptune Novices Hurdle earlier in the week and the Betfair market suggests he is going there.
Taquin Du Seuil is another horse I liked a lot and will make up into a lovely chaser next year, he too holds an entry in the Neptune Novices Hurdle and according to the exchanges that is where he is heading as opposed to this entry.
African Gold looks to be coming here after some good performances in lesser grades but will need to prove his stamina up in trip against better horses.
From Ireland the Noel Meade trained Road To Riches would have an outsiders chance and wouldn’t be a million at around the 20-1 mark, he ought to hold the aces with both Our Vinnie and Busty Brown who also look to be heading in this direction.
A race which often brings forth high class staying chasers of the future it’ll be interesting to see what wins this year and where they go from here. At Fishers Cross has obvious claims based on his form shown thus far both in handicaps and graded races. Ballycasey looks about the best from Ireland at around the same price and he has to have a big chance of glory.
Cloudy Copper is very much a dark horse I want to keep on the right side of (along with Road To Riches) and both are worth including in any saver bets you wish to place on the race to cover bases.
However I’m going to give another chance to the very likeable CONEYGREE who I think is better than he showed last time out and because of that defeat has drifted to a very decent price in the antepost lists. He is due to go to Haydock on the 16th February, and a good performance there will definitely see his price contract towards the head of the market – better ground is almost certain at The Festival which will suit, as will his running style at the head of affairs, his pedigree is laden with stamina and this looks like the perfect race for him.
That’s what I think! What do you think?