Ante-Post Preview of the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle and Free Bets for the Cheltenham Festival 2014 – The Albert Bartlett completes the trio of novice hurdle races at the Festival and is run over 3m on the New Course. This race demands accurate jumping and is routinely run at a fast pace so stamina is key. Many of the runners in the current betting markets have other Festival options and this routinely posses problems for ante-post backers. Here with some betting help is my tip for the race!
The current ante-post favourite is the classy King’s Palace (4/1 Ladbrokes). David Pipe has often talked enthusiastically about his novice string this season and King’s Palace is without question the most exciting. His jumping is very fluent for a five year old and he has shown impressive form at the course, including an 18 length thrashing of subsequent course scorers Monbeg Dude and Creepy. He followed up that victory by beating both Master’s Hill and Potters Cross over the Albert Bartlett course and distance at the International Meeting. He looks a virtual certainty for this race with stablemates such as Red Sherlock and The Liquidator looking better suited over shorter trips. He form reads very well and he sets an impressive standard.
Next in the market we find Briar Hill (6/1 Betfred), last year’s Champion Bumper winner. The manner in which he won at the Festival 12 months ago gave the impression that his horse needs a trip. It’s been a similar story over hurdles as his winning margins emphasise both his workmanlike style and that he will seen to best effect over 3m. As with most ante-post markets, he is not the only Mullins representative; and in the colours of the Ricci family, the stable could also run Clondaw Court (16/1 bet365). For some this horse may represent less of a speculative bet than Briar Hill, as he looked impressive when scoring in game fashion over 2m6f at Thurles. Typically age and experience are positives in this race as it represents a tough stamina test and, as one of the older contenders, he is definitely of interest.
This season’s victor of the Persian War, Timesremembered (33/1 Stan James), is another one with a good chance if he can put a bad run in bottomless Doncaster ground behind him when stepping up to 3m. He finished second in the Challow, a race where he looked to be racing within himself 2f out but emptied quickly coming up to the line. This doesn’t instil the greatest amount of confidence stepped up in trip to 3m and others are readily preferred.
Timesremembered finished second behind CAPTAIN CUTTER (12/1 Stan James) in that race and Nicky Henderson’s 6 year-old dispelled many doubters about his jumping that day. It’s worthwhile noting that he also beat King’s Palace in a bumper at the start of last season, form which now reads very well. While horses can come on from one season to the next (as King’s Palace has) Captain Cutter proved his worth when finishing third in a very competitive bumper behind Red Sherlock and his Punchestown bumper at the end of last season threw out a horse (Turn and Go) that finished second to subsequent scorer and top Irish novice, The Tullow Tank. His age, strong form lines and ability to handle the trip make him one for the shortlist.
Urban Hymn (20/1 BetVictor) took the recent Albert Bartlett trial at Doncaster where Timesremembered looked below par. It is difficult to really get to grips with that form as Town Moor was terrible for most horses that day. His penultimate start was more interesting over the fixed brush hurdles at Haydock where he set a strong gallop and powered home 20 lengths in front. On the other hand, his second place finish to Spirit of Shankly previous to that victory, wasn’t the best form and he will surely need to improve to be contesting the victory.
Given the current market, I’m tempted to side with the form on offer of one at slightly longer odds. King’s Palace is rightly the favourite but he’s yet to encounter some of the stronger opposition entered here and his past form seems more visually impressive than watertight. CAPTAIN CUTTER on the other hand, has shown impressive stamina and an ability to dig deep off the bridle. With that in mind he gets the verdict and hopefully the JP McManus colours can be carried to victory for a second year in a row.
CAPTAIN CUTTER (E/W) (12/1 Stan James)
Simply follow these simple steps –
1. click on the above link
2. create an account and enter your details
3. you will receive a free bet of £10