We’ve published our guide to the 2021 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
This Grade One is the race before the Gold Cup on say four of the Cheltenham Festival
Stattler leads the betting with Irish rival Fakiera
Threeunderthrufive and Ask A Honey Bee are our tips at each-way prices
Monkfish beating Latest Exhibition and Thyme Hill in last year's Albert Bartlett. (Getty)
The final Grade One for novice hurdlers takes place on Gold Cup day, with another large field expected for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. Weapons Amnesty and Bobs Worth won the Albert Bartlett during their first seasons over hurdles, and went on to taste success over fences at the Cheltenham Festival. Penhill scored in 2017, before going on to win the Stayers’ Hurdle the following season.
The betting for this year’s Albert Bartlett is looking as open as ever, with Fakiera and Stattler edging favouritism.
Prior to last year’s renewal, the average winning SP in this Grade One was a staggering 17/1. It was quite a surprise when the four most-fancied horses in the betting were the first to cross the line in 2020. Last year’s Bartlett has proven to be an excellent race, though, and I would be very surprised if this year's race worked out half as well.
After the Nathaniel Lacy at the Dublin Racing Festival, my initial thought for the Albert Bartlett was Fakiera. Gordon Elliott’s charge flew home from the rear to win a Grade Two earlier in the season, and was the only horse to make up any ground at Leopardstown, where he stayed on to place fourth.
Stattler made the running in the Nathaniel Lacy, and only Ballymore favourite Gaillard Du Mesnil was able to pass him. The overall time of that race was very good, but Stattler’s closing sectionals proved he got very tired on the run to the line, so it wasn’t a surprise to see Fakiera gaining on his rival on the run to the line.
2021 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Tips – Assessing The Irish
Fakiera will certainly stay this trip. His jumping, however, has put him on the back-foot several times this season, forcing him to finish well from off the pace. If Fakiera makes similar mistakes at Cheltenham, he could get swallowed up by the capacity field, and making late inroads around the Old Course can be difficult.
Torygraph is a hardy sort, who’s progressed with each of his runs over hurdles. Like Fakiera, his jumping tends to put him in trouble too often, and he's hit a flat-spot during all of his races before staying on towards the finish, which is a worry stepping up to Grade One company.
Farouk D’alene has an engine, but he seems to be much more comfortable going right-handed. Elliott’s juvenile, Duffle Coat would be a danger, but there are worries he might not even make it to the Cheltenham Festival.
Ngolo might look a stayer, but his two most recent runs are fairly off-putting. The same can be said for Ashdale Bob, who had seemed a real Albert Bartlett contender prior to those two Grade One outings at Naas and Leopardstown.
Minella Escape looks a progressive sort, but I don’t like backing novices on the back of heavy falls. Atlantic Fairy isn’t going to Cheltenham, I don’t think Limestone Rock is experienced enough, and Streets Of Doyen may have course form on his side, but I’m not sure that race was up to Cheltenham Festival standard.
2021 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Tips – The Home Challenge
Given the doubts surrounding many of the Irish runners, this looks like a good opportunity for Britain to get what could be a rare winner on the board. However, finding a solid option within the UK horses is just as difficult.
Alaphilippe won a Grade Two at Haydock, beating a bunch of average horses by 14-lengths. Barbados Bucks has strung together three handicap wins and looks a guaranteed stayer, but it doesn’t seem like he’s beaten anything of note in those races either. Paul Nicholls’ charge only beat Mr Harp by two lengths off level-weights, and he was well-beaten behind Alaphilippe at Haydock.
Adrimel remains progressive, but he won’t get the deep ground he needs to perform to his best and Mint Condition would be more at home in the Pertemps Final.
Oscar Elite has been found out since stepping up to Graded and Listed level. Bothwell Bridge hasn't run since the Autumn, Champagnesuperover was comfortably beaten last time out and Make Me A Believer would be suited better by the trip in the Ballymore.
2021 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Tips – The Class Angle
I think it’s safe to say that Stattler is the best horse in this race. Although he crossed the line a tired horse in the Nathaniel Lacy, only Gaillard Du Mesnil was good enough to go by him, and there’s no disgrace in finishing behind a gelding as classy as he is.
Stattler’s prominent running style will stand him in good stead, and he’s proven himself to be a very reliable jumper. He will likely get backed into solo favouritism in the build-up to the race, so now would be the best time to back him on day four of the Cheltenham Festival.
2021 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Tips – Two Each-Way Punts
That being said, this isn't a vintage renewal of the Albert Bartlett, so I’m going to take a punt on two at much longer prices. The first horse I want to take a chance on is Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old, THREEUNDERTHRUFIVE.
Adrian Heskin’s mount picked up when challenged to win on debut, before showing a decent yard-stick in Valleres a clean set of heels on good ground at Ludlow. Threeunderthrufive only just prevailed over a 128-rated rival in Fantastikas at Musselburgh. Yet, he was giving his rival eight-pounds at the weights and Heskin always looked confident that he had his rival covered.
With Barbados Buck’s sitting higher in the betting, Nicholls’ may have other plans for Threeunderthrufive, but at 16/1, I think he’s a good wager in Betfair’s Non-Runner Money Back market.
I’m also going to take a punt on ASK A HONEYBEE at a crazy price. Fergal O’Brien’s charge ran in the Champion Bumper last season, and beat a future winner in Ashtown Lad on his first start over hurdles back in October.
Paddy Brennan’s mount then finished second under a penalty in two novice hurdles, losing nothing in defeat on both occasions. Ask A Honey Bee then clearly hated the soft, tacky ground at Doncaster in the River Don, and was pulled up well before the end.
O’Brien’s charge ran well for a long way in the Bristol Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier in the season, fading back to third on the protracted run to the line. He jumps well, will love good ground, and has run well around Cheltenham this season. I’ll take a chance on Ask A Honey Bee at a triple-figure price.
I wouldn't put anyone off backing Stattler, but in a race as open as this, I'm going with Threeunderthrufive and Ask A Honey Bee at longer prices.
2021 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Tip 1: Threeunderthrufive Each-Way @16/1 at betfair - 5 Units
2021 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Tip 2: Ask A Honey Bee Each-Way @100/1 at Hollywood bets - 2 Units
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