Gangster Can Steal The Prize At Albert Bartlett
Cheltenham’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2.50pm) on the final day, is the race which decides the best staying novice hurdler around, and the betting suggests it could well be Barters Hill (5/2).
Barters To March Up Hill?
Trained by Ben Pauling, this 6yo has won all of seven of his races, including a Grade 2 bumper, before translating that to hurdles. The Grade 1 he took at Newbury over Christmas (2m4f, soft) marked him down as special, and he confirmed that when stepping up in trip to land a Grade 2 over 3m last time (good); Up For Review (10/1) was beaten 11l into fourth.
Barters Hill has yet to taste defeat and it will take a good one to stop him, but one such runner who has also shown class in the novice ranks this term is Neil Mulholland’s Shantou Village (7/1). Unbeaten in two bumpers and two hurdles, including a Grade 2 here in November (2m5f, good), this 6yo was then defeated for the first time. That loss came on heavy ground though and the return to better ground will suit.
Will Irish Trend Continue?
The Irish have won four of the last seven renewals of this event, and while Willie Mullins has yet to land it, that may change should Gangster land the hat-trick. This 6yo has won his last two races, including a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse when last seen in December (3m, heavy).
Stamina is clearly Gangster’s forte, and Mullins mentioned straight after the race that he was an Albert Bartlett type.
He goes well after a break, has winning form on good ground and represents each-way value at 8/1.
Mullins Spoilt For Choice
Mullins also has the 7yo, Up For Review (10/1), an impressive Grade 2 winner at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve (3m, heavy), before flopping behind Barters Hill a month later (3m, good). It’s possible he needs soft ground, having been well beaten on good ground in last year’s Champion Bumper here.
Better value may therefore come via his stablemate, Bleu Et Rouge (12/1), who impressed in landing a Grade 1 at Leopardstown last month (2m2f, heavy). He is also in the Neptune over shorter, as is another Mullins runner, Bellshill (10/1), whose winning form came over 2m2f-2m4f.
At 12/1 is Harry Fry’s 8yo, Unowhatimeanharry (12/1), winner of his last four hurdle outings. Three of those were handicaps, either side of a Grade 2 win over this C&D, and while he’ll need to improve again if wanting to feature at this level, he is on the upgrade and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Will Seven Get Lucky?
Nicky Henderson’s 6yo, O O Seven (20/1) also deserves a mention at big odds, as he is 3-4 over hurdles, including a 2l runner-up effort to Yorkhill over 2m, prior to winning a decent hurdle when stepped up to 3m last month (soft). He’ll handle the conditions and comes from a yard that won this race in 2011.
Willie Mullins is spoilt for choice with a wealth of talented runners entered, but Gangster has only this race as his target. He’ll handle the conditions and will turn up fresh following a 90-day break.
*Prices correct at time of publication.