2021 Albert Bartlett Hurdle Tips – Stattler Another Potential Willie Mullins Winner
2021 Albert Bartlett Hurdle Tips
There wers some big clues at to the destination of this race at the Dublin Racing Festival over the weekend and Daniel Overall has studied them all before providing his big tip for the big race on day 4 of the Cheltenham Festival .
Albert Bartlett Hurdle overview
With five consecutive winners at double-figure prices from 2014 to 2019, including two 33/1 shots and a 50/1 chance, Monkfish’s victory at 5/1 partially restored the parity much to the relief of punters.
A tough test for a novice hurdler, experience has often come to the fore, with 11 of the last 16 winners having previously run a minimum of four times over hurdles before lining up here. The victories of Minella Indo & Monkfish, who only had two and three hurdle starts respectively shows that classy, inexperienced types can win this and perhaps we will see this trend continue to develop in the coming years.
Shaping the Market
Prior to the Dublin Racing Festival, the market for the Albert Bartlett lacked a standout contender; and it was hoped that the Nathaniel Lacy Novices’ Hurdle over 2m6f would provide some clarity. Gaillard Du Mesnil ran out an impressive winner but he is only entered in the Supreme and the Ballymore, with the latter seemingly the obvious target. However, a few in behind did catch the eye with a view to the Albert Bartlett.
Stattler attempted to make all at Leopardstown and he ran with great credit, eventually finishing 3rd. He had finished behind Vanillier (33/1) on his debut over hurdles, but that rival had the experience edge and Stattler has improved with each run since.
Not many races elude Willie Mullins, but the Albert Bartlett had proven a source of frustration for the Closutton trainer prior to Penhill’s breakthrough success in 2017. Since then, he’s had Ballyward and Allaho hit the frame while Monkfish gave him his second victory in the race last season. With that in mind, Stattler looks a clear contender and I’m sure his owners will be keen to win the race they sponsor.
Gentlemansgame (14/1) pipped Stattler for second at Leopardstown; an impressive effort on just his second start under rules. Mouse Morris and Robcour are having a great season and they look to have a potential star on their hands with the imposing grey, who looks like he’ll make a great chaser. W
hether the trainer will be keen to take his lightly-raced five-year-old to Cheltenham remains to be seen but I would not be at all surprised if they swerved the Albert Bartlett given his inexperience.
As a second-season novice, Fakiera has the classic profile you’d look for in an Albert Bartlett contender. Having run well shorter, he always looked like a horse who’d appreciate three miles, and he did so again at Leopardstown. Despite being amongst the first to be asked for an effort, he stayed on nicely into fourth when many had cried enough.
He certainly looks an Albert Bartlett type, but I question whether he’s good enough to win. Well beaten by Ashdale Bob (25/1) earlier in the season, I can certainly envisage him staying on at the finish but he looks vulnerable for win purposes.
Other Irish Contenders
Gigginstown are often well represented in this race; Very Wood won in 2014 and they’ve had four finish in the first three in the six subsequent renewals.
Having beat Stattler in a bumper in February 2020, Farouk D’alene has won two of his three starts over hurdles, with his sole defeat coming when fourth behind Fakiera at Navan where he jumped notably out to his right. He was straighter at Limerick next time out, but he still edged right on occasions and you’d worry about him returning to a left-handed track.
Connections also have Torygraph (25/1) who looks a really strong stayer. Two from three over hurdles, the two races he won were won by Monkfish last season which bodes well for his chances here. The BHA allocated him a mark of 141 which could tempt connections to look at the handicaps. If he were to run here, he would need to improve on what he’s shown thus far but there’s every possibility that he could do just that.
Put Your Bucks on Barbados?
Paul Nicholls and the Stewart Family achieved a great amount of success in the staying hurdle division with Big Buck’s; out of half-sister to the four-time festival winner, Barbados Bucks has progressed nicely this season and is now three from four over hurdles. Beaten on his seasonal reappearance, he won a couple of modest races at Southwell before winning at Kempton under a double penalty on his most recent outing. A real galloper, his form doesn’t leap off the page and Paul Nicholls doesn’t have a great record in this race; since 2010, he’s only had ten runners, recording form figures of: 0P322P89PP.
He does have experience on his side, but he’s only rated 139 and its somewhat surprising to see him so close to the head of the market; perhaps that’s indicative of the lack of clear contenders for this race.
Other British Contenders
The Bristol Novices’ Hurdle and the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle have both been good trials for the Albert Bartlett in recent years. The former was won by Irish raider Make Good who is out for the season, while the Hyde was won by the Kim Bailey trained, Does He Know.
Twice a runner up to a couple of useful types last season, he rattled off three quick victories in the early stages of this term, including two victories at Cheltenham. He departed early in bizarre fashion in the Challow, while he could run in the Sidney Banks on 11th February. Yet to race beyond 2m5f, he is also entered in the Ballymore and his next race may determine his festival target.
Not amongst the initial entries, The Cob is likely to be supplemented following his emphatic success in the River Don, giving Ben Pauling his third winner in the race since 2016. The race did appear to fall apart, with half of the runners pulling up while the winner clearly relished the conditions and the step up to three miles. T
he River Don hasn’t been a fruitful trial for the Albert Bartlett and with Ben Pauling saying “I didn’t enter him because I thought he was 10lb short of being worthy of an entry”, it would be a surprise if The Cob was to win this.
Three from three this season and thought good enough to run in last season’s Champion Bumper, Adrimel (25/1) is worthy of a mention. His dam is out of a half-sister to a Welsh National winner, he looked a dour stayer when winning when winning the Leamington Novices’ Hurdle when conceding weight all around. Stepping up to three miles should bring about further improvement and he could out run his odds.
Albert Bartlett Hurdle Big-Race Verdict
Preference is for Stattler, who has improved with each start over hurdles and he should have no problem stepping up to three miles. The Nathaniel Lacy form could prove crucial here; Gentlemansgame would be a contender if running, although he’s far from certain to given his inexperience while Fakiera has great place claims. Admirel appeals as the best of the British with the step up in trip looking certain to bring out further improvement.