2021 Cheltenham Tips – Irish Outsider Overpriced For Albert Bartlett Success

A field of talented novices look set to compete in the Albert Bartlett HurdleA field of talented novices look set to compete in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle


In the latest of our series of previews on this year’s Cheltenham Festival, Lewis Tomlinson tackles the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle, which is the race before the Gold Cup on Day 4 of the Cheltenham Festival


With the Supreme and Ballymore markets being headed by horses who have already shown signs of real star quality, the Albert Bartlett stands out as an anomaly amongst this season’s Festival novice hurdles in the sense that it looks a hell of a lot messier from an ante-post perspective; nothing as of yet has quite put a serious stamp down as to be heralded as the clear division leader so far.

That makes it a tricky, if yet fascinating, race from a punting perspective; but it’s still no surprise that the favourite for a Cheltenham Grade 1 is trained by Willie Mullins.


That horse’s name is Stattler. A decent bumper performer last season, he got off the mark over hurdles at the second attempt when winning a maiden at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting. Stattler showed a decent cruising speed that day, asserting whilst still on the bridle, before extending on the run-in in the manner of a horse who would have no issue over three miles.


Ashdale Bob, who also features in the Ballymore betting, was he decisive winner of a Navan Grade 2 in December, and merits consideration if none the worse for an early fall in the Lawlor’s of Naas last time out.Jessica Harrington’s six-year-old never finished closer than third in three maiden hurdles last season, but is clearly a different proposition this time around and showed ample strength in the finish to power clear of fellow second-season novice Fakiera

Fakiera himself won a Grade 3 at the same track in November and looks overpriced by my reckoning. Gordon Elliott’s gelding was runner-up to some good horses over two miles last season but looks every inch the out-and-out stayer and should be seen to better effect in a true test of stamina, as the Albert Bartlett often is.


Farouk D’Alene (14-1), who beat Stattler in a bumper last season, met defeat for the first time when flopping behind Fakiera at Navan but quickly put that disappointment behind him to win a Limerick Grade 2 over Christmas. Torygraph, for the same connections, responded generously to Jack Kennedy’s urgings and showed a likeable attitude when winning over 2m7f at Thurles last week.


The British challenge appears to be headed by Barbados Buck’s, a winner of all three of his latest starts. Hailing from the family of connections’ legendary staying hurdler Big Buck’s, Paul Nicholls’ gelding has steadily improved run-for-run this season, culminating in tidy victory under a double penalty at Kempton last time out.

He’s far from the sexiest novice hurdler you’ll ever see at a Cheltenham Festival, but with stamina as a confirmed strong suit and copious amounts of prior experience, it’s easy to see where the case can be made for Barbados Buck’s.


Graded novice hurdles in Britain have been won by Does He Know (25-1) and Adrimel respectively, both of whom shape as if they’d have no issue stepping up to three miles. Does He Know, another second-season novice, won had already stuck twice this season by winning his Cheltenham Grade 2 in November, though Kim Bailey probably would not have been happy to see him crash through the wings of a hurdle in the Challow.

Adrimel was useful enough last season to run in the Champion Bumper and has won on all three starts over hurdles so far, including a game victory in Warwick’s Leamington Hurdle last time where he fended off several challengers to hold on to his narrow lead. The both form of both would probably need to improve again to win a usual renewal of the Albert Bartlett.


A hard race to get a grasp on this season, with lots of interlinking Irish form and no real standout British contenders. However, I’m inclined to take the chance about Fakiera at a fair price, who held his own against some smart types over shorter all the while looking as if he’d be better suited to a real test of stamina.