AB Novices Hurdle
The Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (2:40pm) is a Class A Grade 1 hurdle run over three miles. Sponsored by "Britain's largest grower of root potatoes" it is open to novices aged four years old and upwards. The total prize fund for 2016 is £120,000 and the race will be run on Friday, March 18.
As gruelling a novice hurdle as run all year, the Roll of Honour to date suggests that it suits the strongest stayer in the race.
As the Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle begins to attract more Flat bred horses, particularly classy stayers, the Albert Bartlett Hurdle could develop into the main target for long term chase prospects during their novice hurdling campaign. It could also prove to be a good pointer to future years’ World Hurdles.
2014 Very Wood
2013 At Fishers Cross
2012 Brindisi Breeze
2011 Bobs Worth
2010 Berties Dream
2009 Weapon's Amnesty
2008 Nenuphar Collonges
2007 Wichita Lineman
2006 Black Jack Ketchum
2005 Moulin Riche
1. The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle was added to The Festival in 2005 and provides a valuable opportunity for staying novice hurdlers as it is run over three miles. Initially sponsored by Brit Insurance, it was backed by Albert Bartlett for the first time in 2008, coinciding with its upgrade to Grade One status.
2. The inaugural running went to Moulin Riche, trained by Francois Doumen in France and partnered to success by Robert Thornton. Thornton enjoyed a second success aboard the Alan King-trained Nenuphar Collonges in 2008.
3. Trainer Jonjo O’Neill and jockey Tony McCoy combined to take two consecutive runnings with impressive winners – Wichita Lineman, who scored by 12 lengths in 2007, and Black Jack Ketchum, a nine-length winner in 2006. Both started favourite.
4. Weapon’s Amnesty became the first Irish-trained winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2009, taking the spoils for trainer Charles Byrnes and jockey Davy Russell. He returned to The Festival in 2010 to win the RSA Chase. Berties Dream doubled the Irish tally when scoring in 2010.
2012 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Review
The race went to the ill-fated BRINDISI BREEZE, who sadly died after a freak accident two months later. There was an even sadder transcript to this race as the winning jockey Campbell Gillies met his death later that year in a tragic holiday accident – the pair will be remembered in a special service at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.
The winner was giving trainer Lucinda Russell a first Festival success and he did it the hard way from near the front, going three lengths clear off the bend approaching the last and staying on well to repel the late challenge of the red-hot favourite Boston Bob (6/5).
The latter was held up by Ruby Walsh and stayed on for pressure but the winner was just too good, and in the end he only had a length and a quarter to spare over the third Grand Vision. There was a six length gap back to the fourth horse home, Lovcen.
2011 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Review
Nicky Henderson enjoyed a one-two in the 2011 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham as Bobs Worth landed the famous race.
The Lambourn handler had endured a luckless week up until that point, but Bobs Worth was a well-backed 15-8 favourite after Henderson decided to wait for this race instead of going for the Neptune and it was a decision that ended up paying off in emphatic fashion.
Barry Geraghty partnered the market leader to a two-and-a-quarter lengths from stablemate Mossley (12-1), with Court In Motion third at 9-1.
2010 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Review
A shock in what may not prove to be a vintage renewal of the Albert Bartlett as ground conditions started to deteriorate on the final day of the Festival.
The war of attrition was eventually won by BERTIES DREAM who clearly has stamina in abundance and the gruelling nature of the contest played to those strengths. He is likely to go over fences next season but at this stage it is hard to see him matching the exploits of the winner of this contest last year, Weapons Amnesty, in that sphere.
Runner up Najaf travelled better than the winner for much of the closing stages but simply ran out of gas. He is lightly raced since coming over from France and can improve, whilst the third, Kennel Hill came from a mile back and was flattered by his finishing position as the race somewhat fell apart in front of him.
The horse to take out of the race is probably Arvika Ligeonniere who was running all over the leaders turning for home only for his stamina to give out. He could make a classy chaser.
Restless Harry also deserves credit for a game effort and he certainly didnt deserve his fate falling at the last after being squeezed for room by the first two home. He should have a big future over fences too and clearly has a big heart.
Fionnegas was brought down by the stricken Restless Harry at the last, but was another who appeared not to stay having held every chance approaching two out.
Favourite Tell Massini ran no sort of race, whilst Enterprise Park was pulled up very early on. Both are worth another chance and both look like chasers in the making.
2009 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Review
For once, Walsh and Nicholls had to settle for second best, as WEAPON’S AMNESTY took the fifth running of this contest for Ireland.
As in previous years, many of the runners are biding their time before going over fences and the winner is certainly one of those who looks nailed on to improve even further for a switch to the larger obstacles.
Always travelling well throughout the three mile contest, he probably hit the front a bit too soon, and was idling badly in the closing stages. However, he responded when the runner up, Pride Of Dulcote came at him again, and just did enough to hold on.
Pride Of Dulcote had been ante post favourite for this event for some time and the form of his yard over the preceding days had only increased punters’ confidence. However, after leading from three out to the last, a mistake at the final flight handed the initiative to Weapon’s Amnesty and he was probably flattered slightly by his proximity to the winner. He also has chasing on his agenda for next season and the first two could easily clash again in the RSA Chase at the 2010 Festival.
The Midnight Club stayed on dourly for third, but could never get to the front pair. Extremes of distance are likely to suit this stoutly bred gelding in time and the ground was probably a little too lively for him here.
On Raglan Road, the only horse to beat Dunguib to date, didn’t seem to quite see out the trip in this company, a comment that also applies to Cape Tribulation, who was in the thick of things for a long way – flatter tracks may suit him better.
2008 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Review
Another field packed full of future chasers, but it was a horse with plenty of experience over the larger obstacles already who won the day as NENUPHAR COLLONGES justified in some style Alan King’s decision to bring this horse back to hurdles after a decent enough spell chasing last season.
The race turned into a real slog turning for home, which suited the winner down to the ground. All he does is stay (he was only fifth jumping the second last) and he could be an interesting contender for races like the Welsh National next season if connections decide to send him back over the larger obstacles. He had his ears pricked at the line here, to suggest there was a fair bit left in the tank.
Liskennett ran a cracker in second to belie her relatively low rating, whilst The Tother One looked all over the winner at the bottom of the hill only to run out of stamina in the closing stages. He should make up into a fine chaser, as should Gone To Lunch who was fifth.
Splitting the pair was Siegemaster in fourth, who was the other one travelling well when the field rounded the final turn. He was on the receiving end of some interference at the last which finally put paid to his chance.
One Gulp and Sound Accord plugged on well enough from the rear having been out the back throughout, whereas Carruthers, the well supported favourite, faded disappointingly having taken the field along for much of the way. He didn’t seem to enjoy not getting his own way out in front and is a good bit better than he showed here. Connections are likely to waste no time in switching him to fences next season.
2007 Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle Review
A great result for punters in general, and for the king of punters in particular, as the JP McManus owned WICHITA LINEMAN justified favouritism to land the odds in comfortable fashion…in the end!
This race turned into a real test of stamina and the strong early pace ensured that the field of novices easily bettered the time registered by Inglis Drever in the previous day’s World Hurdle, despite the overnight rain. That suited the stout, staying hurdlers more than the embryo chasers and the winner certainly fits more into the former category than the latter.
Wichita Lineman was not far below the best bumper horses last season, but has really come into his own stepped up in trip over hurdles this year. Massini’s Maguire had given his form a boost by winning the Sun Alliance Hurdle on Wednesday, and that persuaded punters to shorten his already skinny odds before the off, and whilst he was backed as if defeat was out of the question, it wasn’t all plain sailing.
As he tends to, Wichita Lineman needed to be niggled along by Tony McCoy at various stages (most noticeably when coming under pressure at the top of the hill on the final circuit) and he was pressed for a long way by Black Harry. However, he just seemed to have got the better of that rival when Black Harry took a horrible fall at the last.
Next year’s World Hurdle will surely be on the agenda for Wichita Lineman. He has a similar style to this season’s winner, Inglis Drever, in that all he does is stay, and the further he goes the better he looks.
Black Harry didn’t deserve the fate that befell him at the last as he’d run a blinder up until that point and given Ruby Walsh everything. He stayed down winded for what seemed an eternity, but thankfully got up to a rousing cheer from the packed stands and lives to fit another day. He would have been a clear second and has a bright future as he is a big chasing type.
Air Force One finished second in the end – 12 lengths behind the winner. Despite the gap, this was a good effort from a horse running only his fifth race over hurdles and only his fourth in this country. He was decent on the flat in Germany and can win plenty of races on this evidence.
The improved form of Its A Legend, in third, was probably down to the better ground.
Conversely, the ground was probably too quick for Flight Leader who finished fourth. He is big, strong sort who will be one to follow when switched to fences.
The same is true of the other chasing types Head Held High, Skippers Brig, last year’s bumper winner Hairy Molly and Leading Run.
2006 Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle Review
Not only was BLACK JACK KETCHUM’S breathtaking victory a great result for punters it was also a great result for the sport as Jonjo O’Neill’s seven year old proved himself to be a genuine superstar in the making.
There was rarely any doubt about the favourite landing the odds and a typical Festival roar greeted the commentator’s acknowledgment that, travelling down the hill for the last time, AP McCoy still hadn’t movement a muscle on the unbeaten gelding.
McCoy claimed that he knew the horse was a machine the first time he rode him and it is hard to argue with the champion’s assessment after this faultless performance. Not surprisingly, the sponsors of next year’s World Hurdle made the winner 4-1 favourite for that race after this performance.
Irish raiders filled the next five places. Runner up, Powerstation, stayed on strongly and is clearly suited by a thorough test of stamina. Both he and the third, Travino, would undoubtedly prefer softer ground. Travino ran particularly well given that he is an embryo chaser – he’ll be aimed at next year’s Sun Alliance Chase.
Back To Bid, who was fifth, may also improve over fences whilst Shouette defied odds of 100-1 to run a fine race in sixth. Of the others, Karanja was bang there until fading in the straight. This was a much better effort from Victor Dartnell’s horse, who is another who is probably not at his best on this surface.