Back Blaklion To Come Good In Albert Bartlett
If there is one major clue in finding the winner of Saturday’s Grade 2 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, then it is to keep on side of runners at the head of the betting.
Indeed, of the last 10 winners of this historic contest, nine returned at 4/1 or shorter. It’s a fact that punters will need to take on board ahead of Saturday’s latest renewal where Nigel Twiston-Davies’, Blaklion, is sure to be amongst the leading fancies if running.
10 won during last three runs
10 made the top two last time
10 ran in the last 21-60 days – others were 0-28
9 returned 4/1 or shorter (37%) – others were 1-54
9 stepped up in trip by 2f-5.5f from last time – others were 1-40
9 had 1-3 hurdle runs
9 had 1-2 hurdle wins – others were 1-31
6 ran at Cheltenham last time
This 5yo arrives having won a Grade 2 at Chepstow in October (2m4f, soft), prior to a 4l second in another Grade 2 here at Cheltenham last month (2m4f, soft).
As a points winner over 3m last year, it’s likely this step up in trip will suit Blaklion, and his chance is there for all to see.
Nicky Henderson’s, Out Sam, is highly unexposed with just the one hurdle outing, which resulted in an impressive 3l victory at Newbury a fortnight ago (2m5f, soft). Considering there should be more to come following that first outing for eight months, and as a dual points runner-up over 3m, he should not be in fear of this test if making the line-up.
Paul Nicholls’, It’s A Close Call, won his only career start to date in a 2m6f novices’ hurdle at Wincanton last month (good to soft). The manner in which this 5yo was ridden 4l clear that day was impressive, and he looks to be a smart prospect for the season.
Rebecca Curtis’, Binge Drinker, is not only one of the most experienced in the field having won all three hurdle runs to date, but is also proven over Saturday’s trip, having won his last two over 3m. Both of those stamina-sapping victories came in minor races, but he won’t be stopping when they come up the famous Cheltenham hill on Saturday.
Parish Business is another of the more experienced hurdlers having faced timber on five occasions, winning a decent handicap over 3m at Aintree in October (good), before a 3l second in a better class novice at Ascot (2m6f, soft). The mud didn’t suit on that occasion at Ascot, and Parish Business will be much more effective if the rain stays away this weekend – even if he has to prove himself at Graded level.
But, let’s not forget Neil King’s, Zeroshadesofgrey, who is 2-2 over hurdles. While both wins came in small events, he did win by 20l and 16l and could be a lively each-way contender if taking his chance.
The overall view must be to stick with runners at the head of the betting, and one who catches the eye with a likeable profile is Blaklion. Six of the last 10 winners of this race arrived via Cheltenham, and his second here last time suggests he can improve up in trip.