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2015 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle tips - Value At Risk to prove a solid option for Dan Skelton on final day at Cheltenham

  • Brian assesses the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle field.
Value At Risk can land Friday's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.

Read our expert's view on the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle on the final day of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival.


The final big novices’ hurdle of the Cheltenham Festival goes to post on Friday with the latest renewal of the Albert Bartlett, which takes place over three miles of the New Course.

The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (registered as the Spa Novices’ Hurdle) goes to post as the third race on the final day’s racecard, and the competitive contest has attracted a excellent field of twenty runners for the three mile contest.

Willie Mullins as usual boasts a strong hand, and the County Carlow trainer sends a battalion of five runners into the race, including current ante-post favourite, Black Hercules (4/1, Ladbrokes), who is the choice of Ruby Walsh.

Fourth in the Champion Bumper last term, he was disappointing behind Shaneshill in the Punchestown equivalent next time; however he’s come back this term to register two successes at Cork, the latter in Grade Three company when outpointing Alpha Des Obeaux.

Both those wins came in testing conditions, and he may well want softer ground than he’ll get today, although he ran well on faster ground in the Champion Bumper despite looking to lack gears on the quicker surface.


Willie Mullins sends another strong team of novices into battle for the Albert Bartlett.

Of the remaining Mullins quartet, Arbre De Vie (20/1, Ladbrokes) looks to be the best of the four with Paul Townend up. The Rich Ricci-owned gelding has won both starts over hurdles since arriving from France, winning at Warwick on the most recent of them by eleven lengths from Big Jim where he only needed to be pushed out.

The Antartique gelding should improve for this step up in trip and likely to be in the thick of things for his all-conquering yard.

Two of Mullins’ team are Gigginstown runners, but Gordon Elliott looks to have their main hope in the shape of No More Heroes (5/1, William Hill) who posted smart efforts in bumpers last term, and has reached an equivalent standard over hurdles, beating Shaneshill in Grade Two race at Leopardstown.

However, he ran poorly last time when beaten in to fifth behind Outlander at Leopardstown in a Grade Two race, although  the form has since been franked by the Neptune win of Windsor Park.

He reopposes Martello Tower (10/1, Bet365), who finished ahead of him that day, and while the step up to three miles is likely to suit, he isn’t sure to reverse the form with that rival who has looked progressive himself and is entitled to plenty of respect given he is proven over the trip already, winning twice at Grade Three level at up to three miles.

Harry Fry is also double-handed, and his Thomas Brown (16/1, Paddy Power) should go well. 

The progressive sort produced a game display to win in novice company here on New Years’ Day in a race that has worked out well, and the step up to this yardage looks a plus for the Sir Harry Lewis gelding.

His second string, Fletchers Flyer (20/1, Bet365) can’t be overlooked either as he was clear of the rest when runner-up at Haydock behind Definitely Red (25/1, Bet365) last month, but he was giving that rival 4lbs and only succumbed by a half-length.

Level weights now sees that difference negated, and the Winged Love gelding could reverse the form, but both likely need to pull out more for the win.

Value At Risk can land the Albert Bartlett for trainer Dan Skelton.

He should also go well and can reach the frame, although preference in the race is for Dan Skelton’s VALUE AT RISK (12/1, Paddy Power) who was a smart bumper performer for Philip Fenton last term, contesting the Champion Bumper here twelve months ago where he got into all sorts of traffic problems and was never in the race.

That effort was readily left behind when chasing home Shaneshill and Silver Concorde in the Punchestown equivalent before pitching up at the Skelton yard where he made a taking introduction when impressively scoring at Newbury, pulling some twenty lengths and more clear of his field without being extended.

Although runner-up on his next outing at this venue, he very much shaped as if in need of further, seemingly outpaced before finding a new gear after the last to power up the hill and go down by less than one length.

Dan Skelton rates him a ‘seriously good horse’ and he can only improve for this step up in trip; he rates a live contender in a wide open contest.

Out Sam (14/1, Ladbrokes) had both Thomas Brown and Tea For Two (33/1, Paddy Power) behind when scoring at Newbury last November, but he may struggle to confirm the form with the former over this trip, while the latter looks to face a stiff task hiked considerably in grade although a first-time hood might help focus his attentions and place claims not unrealistic.

Nicky Henderson also saddles Carraci Apache (16/1, Coral) who has won each of his last three starts, beating Blaklion (14/1, Paddy Power) in the River Don at Doncaster for his latest success.

He is clearly blessed with bags of stamina, but he was all out at the line, and collided with the running rail after hanging on the flat so not without a quirk; nevertheless, he should go well again and there likely won’t be much between the pair.


Out Sam is one of two Nicky Henderson runners in the race.

Shanroe Sands (40/1, Bet365) needs to pull out considerably more than when racking up a hat-trick of wins in minor company, while Shantou Bob (40/1, Ladbrokes) made Vyta Du Roc pull out all the stops in a Sandown Grade Two in December, but wasn’t in the same form when beaten almost ten lengths into third at Warwick last time and may prefer deeper ground.

Kylemore Lough (50/1, Paddy Power) was on a five-timer when upped to Listed level at Huntingdon, but he was readily brushed aside there and this is much tougher.

VERDICT

A cracking renewal of the Albert Bartlett, and a race where there are plenty of chances throughout the field.

VALUE AT RISK (12/1, Paddy Power) though gets the nod, and Dan Skelton’s charge was a very smart bumper performer in Ireland when trained by Philip Fenton, contesting the Champion Bumper here last season.

Although he was well beaten in that race, he met all sorts of trouble in running and showed what he was capable of when chasing home Shaneshill and Silver Concorde in the Champion Bumper at Punchestown.

The Kayf Tara gelding recorded an impressive wide-margin win on his hurdles debut for Dan Skelton at Newbury, easily brushing aside Foryourinformation and shaped as if he needed more of a test when runner-up to Ordo Ab Chao at this venue in the Classic Novices’ Hurdle when staying on resolutely from the last and only went down by three-parts of a length.

Upped to this trip now, he can improve for the extra yardage and shouldn’t be far away in what looks an open contest.

ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE SELECTIONS

VALUE AT RISK – (12/1, Paddy Power)

Arbre De Vie (20/1, Ladbrokes, each-way)


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2015 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle tips - Value At Risk to prove a solid option for Dan Skelton on final day at Cheltenham

Read our expert's view on the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle on the final day of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, and find out why he rates Dan Skelton's Value At Risk a solid choice to land the last big novice event of the Festival.

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