Ante-Post

Albert Bartlett Preview 2023: Is the winner hidden in plain sight?

Winners phot with Hiddenvalley Lake and connections.
Daryl thinks the Albert Bartlett has strength in depth this year.

Daryl Carter is here with another detailed Cheltenham Festival ante-post preview, and this time tackles the hotly contested Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle...

  • There's plenty of depth to this Novice Hurdle

  • Favori De Champdou the standard setter but...

  • Daryl thinks the favourite could be good value


The Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race on Friday at the Cheltenham Festival and is open to horses aged four years or older.

It is run on the New Course at Cheltenham over a distance of about 3 miles, and there are twelve hurdles to be jumped.

Hidden in plain sight?

Hiddenvalley Lake 1280 x 854.png

Hiddenvalley Lake 11/2 heads affairs after a devilish display at Cork, where he showed a bright turn of foot to scoot away from his rivals in eye-popping fashion.

The form of that race is nothing to get excited about, with the third having been swept aside by Champ Kiely and the runner-up setting no more than a fair level for the grade.

The fourth bolted up against inferior rivals next time, but Hiddenvalley Lake couldn't have been more impressive here with this authoritative victory, coming back on the bridle into the home straight and quickening away in a good time figure.

He was carried out in his point-to-point when set to make a good impression, subsequently costing £200,000.

A ready winner at Naas on hurdle debut, and that form has been advertised well by the runner-up Santoninto when scoring next time and that runner had graded level form in bumpers.

He looks sure to be a promising staying chaser next season, and his next target could be the Mercedes Benz at Clonmel won by Monalee for Henry De Bromhead (Minella Indo second).

He looks like a dour stayer, and he could yet be anything.

Sandor Clegane and Embassy Gardens need significant improvement despite easy victories

Sandor Clegane 8/1 was no match for Facile Vega the twice they met last term in bumpers, but a run to blow away the cobwebs and an impressive victory in a Punchestown Maiden Hurdle sees him towards the top of this market.

I would just be a little dubious of the form from Punchestown. The fourth Green Glory was being handicapped and was well held in the Lanzarote Hurdle when attempting a British raid, while the second has been trounced twice since, and the third well held by 17 lengths by Monbeg Park (well behind Hiddenvalley Lake) previously.

He was impressive, but he was also well positioned in a slowly run affair. He has a bit to prove for now.

Embassy Gardens 7/1 also needs significant improvement on what he did in a run-of-the-mill contest at Thurles recently.

He looked good, but the runner-up is an exposed 18-raced eight-year-old rated 109, and his main market rival Santonito failed to give his running.

A winning distance of 35 lengths is no mean feat, but he was readily held by the promising Good Land 12/1 prior, and it would be disappointing should he prove the best of these.

The pair are far too short in the market.

Corbetts Cross 10/1 has every right to be in this contest after impressing at Fairyhouse with a six-length victory, and he has improved for the step up in distance, recording back-to-back wins the last twice.

He was no match for Landrake (form that ties in with Good Land didn't take up his entry!), but he is progressive and represents shrew connections that capitalised on a handy-looking opening rating of 130. He is now rated 143, and that puts him in the picture.

The British handicapper has gone over the top with Grey Dawning

Speaking of ratings, Grey Dawning 16/1 was given a one of 141 for his Leamington Novices Grade 2 victory.

Dan Skelton's runner had previously won a handicap off of a rating of 123 at Kempton when scraping home over a 15-raced exposed five-year-old and at Warwick and beat nothing rated higher than 133 at Warwick in what must go down as one of the poorest renewals of the contest.

He has abundant stamina, but I can't believe what I sometimes view from the British Handicapper.

One with stronger claims from the British contingent is Weveallbeencaught 16/1 for Nigel Twiston Davies. He got the better of a promising horse called Rock My Way, who had been behind the now Champion Bumper favourite, It's For Me, in a point-to-point that has worked out well.

Still, his future certainly lies over fences, but he is not one to totally write off for a dig at this.

Redemption for Gigginstown?

Gigginstown runner Favori De Champdou 12/1 won the same race as Farouk D'Alene, who would have had strong claims for the Albert Bartlett in 2020 had he not missed the race (he beat eventual winner Vanillier in this contest).

This contest has also seen the owner's Fury Road win and gain a near miss in the Albert Barlett, while Penhill and Martello Tower have gone on to do the Albert Bartlett double in recent years.

Favouri De Chamdou recorded the joint-best RPR in the last ten years, on par with Faugheen, who won the race back in 2013.

The slight caveat is that he may be vulnerable to an improver being an eight-year-old. Derrinross won the same race as a seven-year-old but could only manage sixth in the Albert Bartlett despite recording an RPR of 146.

He has some very strong form that suggests he will run to around 148, and the task is to find something to better that.

The Verdict

We haven't touched on many of the runners in here, including Grangeclare West, who has a double entry with the Ballymore.

He could shake this market up - especially as I am keen on him for the Ballymore.

Outside of him, I am shocked Good Land doesn't have an entry!

Hiddenvalley Lake could be a winner in plain sight, though. He was impressive and he is completely unexposed and straight forward.

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