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2019 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle tips - Two against the field for Friday's Grade One novices' feature

Nicky Henderson could hold the key to the Albert Bartlett Novices' Chase.

Brian Healy looks ahead to Friday's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, the penultimate Grade One race of the Cheltenham Festival, and he picks out two against the field in the competitive three-miler.

The last of the Cheltenham Festival’s novices’ championships and the penultimate Grade One contest on the card, the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is the third race of the afternoon on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.

This three mile contest could throw up a future Stayers’ Hurdle star, and since the race was first introduced back in 2005 when the Cheltenham Festival was extended to four days the likes of Penhill, Unowhatimeanharry, At Fishers Cross, Bobs Worth and Wichita Lineman have all won this Grade One prize.

Getting underway at 2.50pm, the three-mile contest boasts a first prize of almost £75,000 and a maximum field of 20 runners will face the starters’ tape.




COMMANDER OF FLEET (7/1, BetVictor) bounced back from defeat at Fairyhouse in the Royal Bond Hurdle behind Quick Grabim to register a next-time success at Leopardstown when claiming the Nathaniel Lacy and Partners’ Hurdle in February and Gordon Elliott’s charge could follow up.

A winner between the flags, he made a winning introduction in a Punchestown bumper prior to then scoring over hurdles back at that venue when routing Kalum River by six lengths. He probably found the two mile trip far too sharp next time, but he looked a strong stayer at Leopardstown latest where he saw off Rhinestone by a comfortable half-length.

He found plenty for pressure to hold off the runner-up, and he earlier survived what might have been a costly mistake jumping the third last. He left some decent sorts trailing in his wake in that success, and he could have more to offer upped again in distance to this three miles trip.

He looks sure to remain competitive, and every chance he can strike again given he has looked every inch a staying type.


JP McManus won this race back in 2016 when Unowhatimeanharry landed the spoils, and the legendary trainer looks to have a real chance of collecting again with his unbeaten Birchdale and DICKIE DIVER (15/2, Paddy Power) both lining up in this contest.

Narrow preference is for the latter, and the twice-raced Gold Well gelding looked a top prospect when cantering to victory in a Chepstow maiden in February, running out an easy winner from Kingsplace despite making a mess of the last hurdle.

Nicky Henderson trains both Birchdale and Dickie Diver, and while Barry Geraghty prefers the former, Aidan Coleman is a more than able deputy and was onboard for that success where he was always travelling strongly and took up the running on the bit when heading down to the last.

Despite bungling the obstacle, he was soon back on the bridle and he only needed pushed out to score a convincing win. He had previously got to within a head of the more experienced Lisnagar Oscar, who reopposes, where he possibly didn’t help himself by racing keenly and making some mistakes.

Bumped close home by the winner when challenging, he might have been intimidated by that one; but he probably would have won in a few more strides and the pair were clear of the third and rest.

He could well be suited by this further step up in trip being an ex point-to-point winner, and likely to have further improvement to come, he looks a likely player in what could be a wide open renewal of this contest.

2019 ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICE HURDLE TIPS - TWO AGAINST THE FIELD


COMMANDER OF FLEET (7/1, BetVictor), DICKIE DIVER (15/2, Paddy Power)

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2019 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle tips - Two against the field for Friday's Grade One novices' feature

Brian Healy looks ahead to Friday's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, the penultimate Grade One race of the Cheltenham Festival, and he picks out two against the field in the competitive three-miler.

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