Disappointing runs left them overlooked
The Irish dominate the market for the Albert Bartlett and it's easy to understand why Stattler and Fakeira are at the head of it but I think there are a few horses at bigger prices that have been overlooked due to poor recent runs.
Oscar Elite looked quite promising earlier in the season, for all that the competition wasn't overly strong, before being well beaten in the Leamington Novices' Hurdle at Warwick. He was still in contention that day until quickly dropping away from the home turn and they took the choice to markedly drop him back in trip to 2m1f at Exeter last time. Unsurprisingly he didn't have the speed for that, even in very testing conditions, and was beaten 22 lengths into third.
For all that it's been quite difficult to avoid such ground through the winter, I wonder if winning two races easily on heavy ground tricked connections into thinking that is what he wants. I take the opposite view and that he was winning those races in that manner through a combination of class and weakness of opposition. He now gets the chance to run on much quicker ground and when winning a point at Tyrella he showed how well he goes on it.
A tongue tie is also added today, which may partly explain why he dropped away so quickly at Warwick, and while I'm not certain that he wants quite this much of a test of stamina I think he's too big to ignore at 55.
Pats Fancy was second in a Grade 2 over C&D in December and looked a thorough stayer on that occasion. I'm not sure the fairly steady pace that day suited him and having moved smoothly into contention on the run to the home straight, he was outpaced before staying on into second. He was reported to have never been travelling on his latest start at Doncaster, when sent off 7/1 for the River Don, so that poor run can be excused.
He's another who I think will enjoy this much better ground. I think it was his stamina rather than liking of the ground that caused him to be Gladiateur Allen at Ffos Las and his action suggests that he wouldn't want it too soft. Stamina has looked his forte right from the start of his career as he was staying on at the end of 3m in points and that impression has continued since running under rules.
Hopefully the likes of Adrimel and Stattler will set a good enough pace to bring his stamina into play and he's overpriced at 42.
Vanillier ran against Stattler and Fakeira at the Dublin Racing Festival but ran awfully. He wasn't far behind that pair in the market that day but he was beaten a long way out and eventually came home 59 lengths behind Gaillar Du Mesnil. However, Gavin Cromwell has since reported that he was a sick horse that day so it's easy to forgive that poor display.
Prior to that he looked a promising staying novice hurdler when finishing a close second behind Farouk d'Alene at Limerick over Christmas. He was outpaced by the front pair on the long run to 2 out but he was staying on and closing on them when he got in close to 2 out and was down on his nose. Still in third at that point, he ran on strongly under pressure but couldn't quite catch Farouk d'Alene and was beaten three quarters of a length.
His jumping is a concern as it was sloppy during that race and it's been poor in the past and the negative impact of any mistakes at this level of Cheltenham tend to be amplified. There is also a concern over the ground as he would prefer it softer but hopefully he will handle it. Despite these concerns, I think the market has overreacted somewhat to one run and he appeals at 20/1.