ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE INFO
Date: Friday (2.30), March 17, 2023
Type: Grade 1 National Hunt Hurdle Race
Distance: 3 Miles
The 2022 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle will be run on Friday March 17th as the third race on the fourth and final day of the Cheltenham Festival at 2.30 PM.
The £125,000 contest, a three-mile novice hurdle on the New Course featuring twelve flights, was formerly known as the Spa Novices’ Hurdle and still retains this title for registering purposes, something it can revert to if it’s sponsorship should be ended.
The race features not just the star long-distance hurdlers of the future but potential top staying chasers as well, a point borne out by Bobs Worth who took the contest in 2011 before returning to win the RSA Chase in 2012 and ultimately the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2013.
The Albert Bartlett was inaugurated in 2005 as one of the new races introduced when the festival was upgraded to four days from three, and was initially a Grade 2 race however now it has fully earned it’s stripes and is a very genuine, competitive Grade 1 event.
Any Albert Bartlett race is bound to be competitive, and this year’s is no different if the early ante post betting is anything to go by.
Albert Bartlett betting will be fierce in the lead-up to the event, but for now based on what little information we have on a bunch of novice hurdlers, many of whom haven’t gone over three miles yet, we think the value call is to back two horses each-way, non-runner no bet.
Runners coming soon…
Check out our Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide for the list of TOP 15 betting sites to place a bet on upcoming Festival.
Luckily, we don’t rely too much on stats and trends for if we did, this race would be a complete basket case! If Albert Bartlett betting is anything to go by we may as well simply stick a pin into the paper and see what we’ve picked, but there are a couple of gems we can dig up here that might just help us along.
7 of the last ten winners of this race won their last race and/or their penultimate race before the Festival, so it seems despite many outsiders winning strong form is still very important. The number of runs that year doesn’t seem overly crucial, though being placed at least three times (if they’ve run that many) looks to be a prerequisite.
One five-year-old and one 8yo have won in this time period, but they are exceptions as all other winners have been aged 6 or 7 which seems to be ideal. Any younger and they may lack the mental and physical capacity to see out this tough three miles, any older and they may have already begun to reach a peak before Cheltenham, leaving others to improve past them on the big day.
A couple of favourites have won this race, but both were going into the event as unbeaten hurdlers and as such were probably quite rightly labelled superstars. Not many superstars will line-up in this race though, so on the evidence we have it would be easy to say avoid favourites!
Taking out those two successful favourites and 7/2 shot Unowhatimeanharry, who was also unbeaten, the average SP of an Albert Bartlett winner in the last ten years is a huge 26/1.
This race is not old enough for anyone to have dominated, though Tony McCoy’s record of three winning rides in seven years is impressive. Now that he’s retired, we can’t even look at him as our leading rider and with no jockey in the last ten years even winning more than once, it’s anybody’s game from the saddle.
As far as most successful trainers go, Jonjo O’Neill has saddled two winners of the Albert Bartlett, in ’06 and ’07, but it would be no surprise were it to be one of the big guns now such as Elliott, Mullins, Hobbs, Henderson or Nicholls who was successful in 2020.
The three-mile division is one that takes some time to sort out, as not all horses thought capable of staying this distance will go on to prove their trainers right.
With that in mind, we don’t want to stick only with favourites but with so many contenders to choose from it’s probably wise to back a couple of them to small stakes, each-way ideally, hopefully with a non-runner no bet caveat added by your bookmaker.
Tips coming soon…
Cheltenham Festival offers will be thrown at us from every angle as we approach March, including when it comes to the leading three-mile novice hurdle of the season. We don’t know what those offers will be just yet, but last year’s offers were fairly enticing for sure.
In 2022 Ladbrokes’ Bet £5 Get £20 Cheltenham Special was very popular on all four days, as was the Double Your Winnings on the First Race Everyday at Cheltenham which was put up by their partner firm Coral and we hope something like that is repeated.
As is the case with all festival races, our Albert Bartlett Hurdle tips will be much more accurate when final declarations are made on Wednesday March 11th, two days before the race.
At that point a host of live, up-to-date betting options will be available to us from the basic win market, to betting without the favourite, each-way bets and a whole lot more besides.
In the meantime, even before official entries are made, we have the ante post market at our disposal and it’s one in which 37% of all bets so far have gone the way of Thyme Hill, which is perhaps no surprise. Our selections Fury Road and Andy Dufresne are responsible for 14% and 9% of online bets respectively.
We’ll have more information when entries are open.
Here’s how all of the last ten winners of this race shape-up:
The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle 2019 winner’s name, Minella Indo, is perhaps not one that resonates with too many but boy has he proven to be a money-spinner for trainer Henry de Bromhead and his connections.
Having not won a hurdle race at all going into the Albert Bartlett 2019 this six-year-old was allowed to go off at 50/1, however having taken the lead with three flights to jump he stayed on stoutly to beat 4/1 favourite Commander Of Fleet to return to a strangely quiet winner’s enclosure.
Proving it was no fluke, Minella Indo went on to follow-up in the equivalent race at the Punchestown Festival where once again he was not the market leader.