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Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey have taken a look at the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle prior to the 2021 Cheltenham Festival – where Paddy Power is non-runner money back on all races.
Speaking on the first episode of Paddy Power’s special Countdown To Cheltenham podcast, our top tipsters warned the betting market could look very different by the time the runners go to post – but this is who they fancy right now.
You can listen to the full show BELOW.
The Albert Bartlett is a hard race to get a handle on. Willie Mullins has STATTLER in it this year – he might end up with one or two more, but Stattler is the obvious one and he definitely wants soft ground.
Traditionally this was a race where you wanted a horse that had plenty of runs for it. Monkfish was different in last year’s renewal, as was Minella Indo in 2019, but prior to that you did want a horse that had plenty of runs under its belt.
BARBADOS BUCKS did well at Kempton last week and FAROUK DALENE also did well to hang on at Limerick over Christmas. The latter has a squeak, but this is an even more open race than the Ballymore Novices Hurdle.
FAKIERA has been many people’s tip for the race for a long time, while QUEENS BROOK is a contender if there’s some dig in the ground. She looks like a mare that has been crying out for this kind of 3m trip. She has been running over shorter distances and has a few runs under her belt now, which might help her.
This is such an open race and the horse of Tom Lacey’s that won at Warwick the other day – ADRIMEL – was one you could put into your notebook too. But I would be surprised if NGOLO goes from 2m to 3m, as you would imagine he would step up to at least 2m 5f before going all the way to 3m.
This is impossible to call, but Barbados Bucks looks like he will stay forever – and then stay forever again. He’s probably a shout, but I don’t disagree with people backing Fakiera while DOES HE KNOW definitely has a chance.
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Looking at the SP of the last 10 winners, we’ve had 5/1, 50/1, 33/1, 16/1, 11/1, 14/1, 33/1, 11/8, 7/1 and 15/8. There is a right range of prices there, with the 11/8 favourite being At Fishers Cross and the 15/8 favourite the future Gold Cup winner, Bobs Worth.
Then when you look at the number of runs the winners have had over hurdles prior to the Albert Bartlett, it was 3 runs, 2 runs, 4 runs, 7 runs, 15 runs, 6 runs, 4 runs, 6 runs and 3 runs. Monkfish and Minella Indo bucked the trend, being relatively inexperienced – Minella Indo hadn’t even won over hurdles – but most horses that have won the Albert Bartlett had proved their stamina over 3m.
The Limerick race that FAROUK DALENE won is a very good guide to Cheltenham. Martello Tower and Penhill won that before going to Cheltenham, while Fury Road also won that race and was third last year in the Albert Bartlett, while Faugheen won it before and then obviously went on to win a Ballymore Novices Hurdle.
More Cheltenham tips
- Frank and Ruby have their say on the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
- Antepost picks for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle from Frank and Ruby
The Grade 2 race at Cheltenham is also a decent guide to the race and it’s just looking like if you can back a horse now that will definitely run on the day, you will be very unlucky not to be on a much bigger price. Looking at the Albert Bartlett market, Bob Olinger won’t run, Bravemansgame won’t run, Appreciate It won’t run. I’m not sure about Queens Brook but Ngolo probably won’t run and neither will Gentlemansgame. If you can just get a runner, you will be in a very good position.
I’ve been banging on about FAKIERA for a long time. He is just crying out for 3m and I would just love it if they stepped him up on his next start. He had three runs in maiden hurdles between 2m and 2m 2f last season and was second in all of them.
He’s then had three runs this season, winning two of them. He beat Gabynako at Fairyhouse, who finished third in the Lawlor’s Of Naas last week. He won the Grade 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle at Navan, looking outpaced before running on strongly to nail Fire Attack close to the line. He was then second behind Ashdale Bob in a Grade 2 at Navan, again badly outpaced three out but running on strongly to finish second, with Farouk D’alene back in fourth. He has plenty of experience and a bit of better ground wouldn’t harm him. I would assume this is where he will run and it is very appealing from a ‘Non-Runner, Money Back’ perspective.
Albert Bartlett bet summary – Friday, March 13
Ruby Walsh – Barbados Bucks
Frank Hickey – Fakiera
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