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Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle betting tips: Best selections for Cheltenham Festival Grade One

A view of the runners in the Albert Bartlett. (credit:Credit by bettingpro)

Our expert takes a look through the betting for this Grade One on day four of the Cheltenham Festival and provides readers with his tips.

The Albert Bartlett may only be celebrating its 15-year anniversary, but it’s a Grade One which has been won by some excellent horses down the years and provides a fitting prelude to the feature race of the meeting - the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Moulin Riche won the first edition of this three mile novices hurdle back in 2005. He’s since been followed into the winners’ enclosure by Weapon’s Amnesty, Bob’s Worth and Penhill - who have all claimed further Festival glory in subsequent seasons.

Commander Of Fleet (8/1 William Hill) shot to the head of the betting for the three-miler after winning the Nathaniel Lacy at the Dublin Racing Festival. Gordon Elliott’s charge carried an unbeaten record into that Grade One and travelled like a classy beast throughout, staying on stoutly on the long run to the line to beat Rhinestone (16/1 Unibet) by half-a-length.

Rubbing shoulders with Commander Of Fleet near the head of the market is Birchdale (10/1 William Hill), who will be switched to the Albert Bartlett by Nicky Henderson, despite winning the Ballymore Trial on Trial’s Day. Whether Brewin’Upastorm would have had enough in the tank to beat Birchdale is a subject for debate, but his tumble allowed the JP McManus-owned novice to canter home unchallenged and he too will be looking to preserve a 100% record over jumps.

Dickie Diver (9/1 Betfair) also sits on a single-figure price and Nicky Henderson has already confirmed he will join Birchdale in the Albert Bartlett. A 20-length winner of a point-to-point back in December 2017, Henderson’s charge has won one of his two starts in novice company. No horse has ever won the Albert Bartlett without running in a Graded race previously in the season, however, so Dickie Diver has plenty to find on many of his rivals.

The Albert Bartlett is notorious for producing long-odds winners, so I was going delve into the lower depths of the betting for both of my selections. That being said, I was extremely impressed with LISNAGAR OSCAR’S (8/1 Betfair) victory at Haydock in February and I really fancy he could mount a winning challenge at Cheltenham.

Experience is vital when it comes to the Albert Bartlett, with all of the previous ten winners having at least four starts over hurdles. Rebecca Curtis’ six-year-old has run five times already this season and performances suggest Lisnagar Oscar has improved with every start. Unlucky to run into the impressive Emitom on his hurdling debut, Curtis threw Lignagar Oscar into Grade Two company on just his second start over hurdles and Jerry McGrath’s mount ran a fine race, narrowly losing out to second-season novice, Rockpoint (33/1 Ladbrokes).

Lisnagar Oscar then took the scalp of Dickie Diver in a novice contest, despite the 19-and-a-half-furlong trip seeming a little sharp. A return to three miles saw Sean Bowen’s mount secure a career-best victory at Haydock, surging clear of Ask Ben (33/1 Unibet) to win the Prestige Hurdle by ten lengths.

Rebecca Curtis has previous in the Albert Bartlett, saddling At Fishers Cross before his win in 2013. Sean Bowen has been in fantastic form all season, so it would be a big boost to Lisnagar Oscar’s chances if he was confirmed in the saddle. Decent ground isn’t an issue and he’s a confirmed stayer over the trip at Cheltenham. To me, Lisnagar Oscar is an outstanding candidate.

Even so, given the history of the race, it’s sensible to look further down the betting for some each-way value and there are plenty of names who catch the eye.

Allaho (14/1 William Hill) won well on his first start for Willie Mullins and could be anything, but as I mentioned earlier, experience is vital in this race and he will have to produce a blinding effort after just two starts over jumps. Nadataik (33/1 Unibet) carries Grade Two winning form into Cheltenham, having triumphed convincingly in the River Don, but that looked a very weak race and I’m not sure Ben Pauling’s plodder is up to this standard.

Relegate (14/1 William Hill) was staying on powerfully to finish fifth in the Nathaniel Lacy and Cheltenham will bring back good memories for last year’s Champion Bumper winner. Willie Mullins’ mare will stay three miles and will be gaining weight from her male rivals, but Relegate has secured results in-spite of some terrible jumping thus far and that attribute will be under severe scrutiny in the Albert Bartlett.

Despite finishing second to Commander Of Fleet, Rhinestone earned a higher RPR for his performance and Joseph O’Brien’s runner offers value. As does Derrinross (16/1 Ladbrokes), who has secured two impressive Graded victories during his second season over jumps. Both would be good each-way selections, but my preference is for Gordon Elliott’s DINONS (25/1 Unibet), who was very unlucky last time out and has some valuable experience at Cheltenham to bolster his claims.

Elliott has sent his novice out ten times already this season, with many of those runs coming on good summer ground. Following a fall on his hurdling debut, Dinons secured five victories on the bounce – a sequence which included lengthy victories at Sedgefield, Perth and Cheltenham’s Open Meeting, where the favourite clocked an RPR of 148 during a 14-length triumph over De Name Evades Me (401/ William Hill).

Davy Russell held Dinons up alongside eventual winner, Easy Game in the Monksfield Hurdle at Navan in November. Russell was tracking his rival’s every move and was travelling smoothly approaching the last, only for an ill-fated stablemate to suffer a fatal fall ahead of him and Dinons almost came to a complete stand-still.

Elliott has freshened his charge up since then and he’s the only runner in the field to have run to an RPR in the 140s on four separate occasions. Dinons seemed to relish the challenge posed by Cheltenham during that victory back in October and ground conditions will be ideal. 25/1 looks a big price! 

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Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle betting tips: Best selections for Cheltenham Festival Grade One

Our expert takes a look through the betting for this Grade One on day four of the Cheltenham Festival and provides readers with his tips on Friday 15th March.

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