Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
First staged in 2005, this three miles novices’ hurdle was previously won by former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth. The race generally attracts horses without the basic speed to compete in the shorter novice events and former winner UnowhatImeanharry participated in the Stayers Hurdle during later years.
One of the favourites at 5/1 for this season’s renewal will be Latest Exhibition from the Paul Nolan yard. From one of the less famous Irish stables, the 7-year-old gelding has won three of his four hurdle races and finished second in the other. His latest victory in a 2m6f contest at the February Dublin Festival confirmed the horse as more of a stayer than a speedier type.
Fellow Irish raider Monkfish from the Willie Mullins stable will be a serious challenger to Latest Exhibition and is also offered at 5/1. A younger horse at 6-years-old, he finished second in his debut race over hurdles before winning his next two contests in an impressive manner. Both contests have been fairly low-key events but a 2m7f victory at Fairyhouse in heavy conditions is an indication of his undoubted stamina.
There are likely to be a few trainers who will be undecided between running their horses in this race or the shorter Ballymore contest but Gordon Elliott is likely to declare Fury Road for this event. Another Irish raider, he lost his three-race unbeaten sequence over hurdles when only fourth behind Latest Exhibition at Leopardstown.
However, he may appreciate the stamina test at Cheltenham as was making ground towards the finish in his latest start. He also appears to act in any conditions.
Harry Senior could be another entrant after winning over course and distance on his latest outing. He has improved for racing over this longer distance as he seemed to be outpaced near the finish of his three earlier races this season before a victory at Chepstow over nearly 2m4f prior to his Cheltenham triumph.