Also known as the Spa Novices’ Hurdle, this three-mile contest is one of the newer additions to the Festival having enjoyed its first appearance in 2005. It took three years for it to gain Grade 1 status and this is something that it has held ever since.
The original sponsor was Brit Insurance with this race carrying their name between 2005 and 2007. Since 2008 Albert Bartlett have backed this high quality stayers’ novices’ hurdle.
Next Race: Friday, 19th March 2021
The next race is scheduled to run on 19th March 2021. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 13th March 2020
- Winner: Monkfish
- SP: 5/1
- Trainer: Willie Mullins
- Jockey: Paul Townend
3m is the trip for this Grade 1 novice hurdle which offers £130,630 in total prize money. The ground at the track is currently described as soft, but with little rain in the area, it is expected to be more like good to soft on the day.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||3m||Grade 1||£130,630||19 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
This race is a really tough test and is one of the highlights of the final day of the Festival. Taking place just before the big one, the Gold Cup, it has been won by some top class horses in the past. We look set for another great renewal this year and reckon we have a very nice tip at double-digit odds.
One of the newer races at the Cheltenham Festival, having first been introduced in 2005, this has proven to be a wide open affair, with Jonjo O’Neill the only trainer to have landed the prize on more than one occasion. That doesn’t help us much here as O’Neill doesn’t hold an entry this year. A look into the jockey trends proves to be similarly fruitless, with the only riders with more than one win to their name – Sir Tony McCoy and Robert Thornton – both now being retired.
The strongest trend in evidence here concerns the age of the winner, with eight of the past 10 renewals falling to a runner aged either six or seven – a fact which speaks against the two eight year olds and sole five year old in this year’s field.
This has been one of the toughest races of the entire week to solve in recent years, with the past decade seeing three winners at 33/1, in addition to 50/1 shot Minella Indo who came home in front 12 months ago. Unsurprisingly this hasn’t been the greatest race for favourite backers, with the market leaders returning a level stakes loss of 4.75 units over the last 10 years. Let’s take a look at the key contenders.
|Thyme Hill||7/2||150||Philip Hobbs||Richard Johnson|
|Latest Exhibition||5/1||149||Paul Nolan||Bryan Cooper|
|Monkfish||5/1||152||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|Ramses De Teillee||10/1||151||David Pipe||Tom Scudamore|
THYME HILL (7/2)
Judging by the recent results in this race, it is debatable how much of a benefit it is to be rated as the most likely winner according to the betting market. Something has to start favourite though, and this year that dubious honour seems most likely to fall to the Philip Hobbs-trained, Thyme Hill. On this season’s form, this son of Kayf Tara does deserve that position at the head of affairs though.
A perfect three from three since being sent hurdling this term, he has progressed with each run and landed a first career Grade 1 when forging ahead close to home in the Challow Novices Hurdle at Newbury last time out. That did come over 2m4½f, so he has questions to answer now stepping up in trip, but the manner in which he finishes his races suggests that stamina is his strong suit. The six year old also boasts solid form at the track having run an excellent race to finish third in a strong renewal of the Champion Bumper here last year.
LATEST EXHIBITION (5/1)
The Irish trainers have held their own in this race of late, with five wins in the past 10 years, and look set to be strongly represented once again this year. Topping the list for many Irish racing fans is the Paul Nolan representative, Latest Exhibition.
Three from four over hurdles this season, this one’s only defeat came when second over 2m to subsequent Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner up Abacadabras. No real shame in that considering that it is stamina which appears to be Latest Exhibition’s strong suit. Another big factor in his favour is the fact that he also already has a Grade 1 win to his name, having pulled clear to score by two lengths in a top level event at Leopardstown last time out.
Willie Mullins took this in 2017 with subsequent Stayers’ Hurdle champ, Penhill, and sends a three-pronged attack into battle this time around. Aione and Janidil are certainly well worth a second look at each way prices, but for us, Mullins’ best chance of success would appear to lie with the Rich Ricci-owned, Monkfish.
This one wouldn’t be as battle hardened as some of these, but what he does look to possess is bags of stamina. Second to the useful Diol Ker over 2m4f on his seasonal return, he has proven to be a different proposition altogether since being stepped up in trip. An 11-length winner of a maiden two starts back, he then pulled fully 20-lengths clear of the field in a decent novice event at Thurles last time out. This is a huge step up in class, but the bare form of that latest win does stack up pretty well and he is expected to be involved at the business end here.
RAMSES DE TEILLEE (10/1)
One of the more interesting contenders in this year’s line-up is the David Pipe runner, Ramses De Teillee. Now an eight year old, he may fall down on the recent age trend, but otherwise would look to have plenty in his favour, and may be the one horse in the field who can really be counted upon to knuckle down should this turn into a scrap, as seems pretty likely.
Having finished a close second in the 3m5½f Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in 2018, he scores top marks in the stamina department, and seems to be enjoying a new lease of life on his second crack at hurdles.
A perfect three over the smaller obstacles this season – having been zero from seven previously – he arrives here on the back of successive Grade 2 wins and looks a big threat to all. We are always inclined to side with one at a double figure price in this event, and whilst Ramses De Teillee only just falls into that category, we fancy he will be tough to keep out of the frame and we make him our each way selection in the race.
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Winners
|2020||Monkfish||5/1||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|2019||Minella Indo||50/1||Henry De Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore|
|2018||Kilbricken Storm||33/1||Colin Tizzard||Harry Cobden|
|2017||Penhill||16/1||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|2016||Unowhatimeanharry||11/1||Harry Fry||Noel Fehily|
|2015||Martello Tower||14/1||Margaret Mullins||Adrian Heskin|
|2014||Very Wood||33/1||Noel Meade||Paul Carberry|
|2013||At Fishers Cross||11/8||Rebecca Curtis||A P McCoy|
|2012||Brindisi Breeze||7/1||Lucinda Russell||Campbell Gillies|
|2011||Bobs Worth||15/8||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
About the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle: The Spa Stamina Test
National Hunt racing is an extremely varied sport. There are many different stars competing in a host of different divisions many of which have further subdivisions. Celebrating that variety is one of the main reasons why the Cheltenham Festival is so loved by racing fans.
Take the novice hurdling division for example. It contains the leading hopes for the future of National Hunt racing but among that number are horses who will excel over shorter trips, those who will become stayers and everything in between. That is why the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is such an important race.
Officially registered as the Spa Novices’ Hurdle but best known by its sponsored title, this Grade 1 contest is a chance for future stars over both hurdles and fences to compete against each other over three miles, which is longer than the other novice hurdles with the closest being the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at 2m5f.
An Instant Hit
The first running of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle only took place in 2005. As it was one of the races introduced as the Cheltenham Festival was extended to four days there were some people who questioned whether it would prove to be a success. They soon had their answer.
Then called the Brit Insurance Novices’ Hurdle after its first sponsor, the race was run as a Grade 2 for the first three renewals. Following the legendary ride that Tony McCoy gave Wichita Lineman during his win in 2007 the race was promoted to Grade 1 status in 2008 which is the first year that Albert Bartlett began their association.
The prestige garnered by those early years has only increased as time’s gone by but people really began to sit up and take notice in 2013 when Bobs Worth won the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Nicky Henderson gelding had won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Chase two years previously and with that precedent being set connections of many more promising types who had been bred to stay started aiming their charges at the Albert Bartlett specifically. The steady increase in prize money as shown in the below graph also helped attract higher calibre entrants.
Non-Runner No Bet Options Key for Ante Post Plays
Horse racing fans will often try to maximise their knowledge of the sport to try and snap up early value with the bookies by heading to the Cheltenham ante post markets. The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is usually a strong indicator for the RSA Chase at the following year’s Cheltenham Festival but a word of caution is required for those thinking about their ante post positions for the coming renewal.
The leading contenders for the Albert Bartlett usually hold entries in at least one more race. Connections often make their minds up close to the Festival and so it is advisable only to bet with bookies who offer non runner no bet terms unless the information about a horse’s destination is solid.
The rather muddied picture is not made any clearer when looking at the most likely trials for this one. Assessing the form of the official trial in December and the two Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle trials in October and November all of which are held at Cheltenham is recommended as is the Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury and the River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster but the most eye catching performers from those races can still end up at either the Albert Bartlett or the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Major British Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Trials (2020/21)
|October||Persian War Novices’ Hurdle||Chepstow||Grade 2||£30,000|
|October||Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle||Cheltenham||Class 2||£16,000|
|November||Ballymore (Hyde) Novices’ Hurdle||Cheltenham||Grade 2||£26,000|
|December||Ballymore Winter Novices’ Hurdle||Sandown||Grade 2||£24,000|
|December||Albert Bartlett (Bristol) Nov’ Hurdle||Cheltenham||Grade 2||£26,000|
|December||Challow Novices’ Hurdle||Newbury||Grade 1||£40,000|
|January||Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle||Cheltenham||Listed||£15,750|
|January||Ballymore Leamington Nov’ Hurdle||Warwick||Grade 2||£22,500|
|January||Albert Bartlett River Don Nov’ Hurdle||Doncaster||Grade 2||£23,000|
|January||Ballymore (Classic) Novices’ Hurdle||Cheltenham||Grade 2||£22,500|
|February||Albert Bartlett Prestige Nov’ Hurdle||Haydock||Grade 2||£22,500|
In Ireland there’s also a number or races that lead to the Albert Bartlett Hurdle. Again, many horses will hold multiple entries for the Festival but the Grade 1s in February at Leopardstown and January at Nass along with the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle at Limerick in December could prove particularly informative.
Major Irish Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Trials (2020/21)
|October||Fergus O’Toole Memorial Nov’ H’dle||Limerick||Listed||€22,500|
|November||Irish EBF Novice Hurdle||Cork||Listed||€30,000|
|November||Monksfield Novice Hurdle||Navan||Grade 3||€27,500|
|December||Stayers Novice Hurdle||Cork||Grade 3||€27,500|
|December||Navan Novice Hurdle||Navan||Grade 2||€20,650|
|December||Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle||Limerick||Grade 2||€35,000|
|January||Lawlor’s Of Nass Novice Hurdle||Naas||Grade 1||€80,000|
|February||Golden Cygnet Novice Hurdle||Leopardstown||Grade 1||€125,000|
|February||Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Nov’ H’dle||Clonmel||Grade 3||€27,500|
|February||Michael Purcell Memorial Nov’ H’dle||Thurles||Grade 3||€27,500|