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  • Wood Is Very Game In Bartlett

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Registered As The Spa Novices' Hurdle) (Grade 1) 3m

  • (4yo+, 3m, Class 1, 18 runners)
  • Winner £68,340 2nd £25,644 3rd £12,840 4th £6,396 5th £3,216 6th £1,608
  • Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 5m 50.50s
  • Off time: 14:53:28
  • Last Updated: March 14 2014, 18:56 GMT

Noel Meade received a welcome boost when Very Wood won the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Very Wood (centre) jumps to victory under Paul Carberry
Very Wood (centre) jumps to victory under Paul Carberry

Meade had ruled most of his potential Festival runners out of travelling to England with his stable laid low by a virus but the five-year-old, who had finished last of three behind favourite Briar Hill last time, did make the journey.

The race was delayed as Daryl Jacob received treatment after being unseated from Port Melon on the way to the start (click here for the full story) but once underway, the well-backed Kings Palace was soon at the head of affairs alongside Urban Hymn and The Job Is Right.

Briar Hill was settled in just behind the pace by substitute jockey David Casey but his race was over at the first hurdle as they went out onto the final circuit when he dived at the flight and came down, suffering a fractured cheekbone.

With his main market rival out of the race, Kings Palace continued to jump for fun but he never had an uncontested lead and Deputy Dan looked to have his measure as they came down the hill.

Deputy Dan took over the running but he began to tread water approaching the last as Paul Carberry and Very Wood stayed on relentlessly to take the spoils from Deputy Dan with Apache Jack in third.

Champagne West finished fourth while a tired Kings Palace fell heavily at the last but both the horse and Tom Scudamore were reported to have walked away.

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Carberry said: "It's brilliant, great for Noel, and I'm delighted to get a winner. I know Ruby (Walsh), AP (McCoy) and Barry (Geraghty) always say they are expected to win, but I've come up with a shock, and a good one.

"He travelled and jumped super. He's going to be a lovely chaser. I had to gather him up after the third-last, but he stormed up the hill."

Meade said: "It was just fabulous. He had a bruise last night and we thought he wasn't going to run, the team did a brilliant job to get him here.

"You could fancy him if you'd seen his run behind the favourite (Briar Hill, at Naas). He was staying on very well (over two and a half miles). It's the trip that makes the difference to him and he's a chaser for next year.

"He's a pretty laid-back customer. Eddie (O'Leary) bought him a field, I think. We ended up coming here with only two runners. We thought we had a great team, but they kept getting knocked out and then we got a bug about a month to six weeks ago and we closed up for three weeks and had no runners at all. That's hard to take."

Sky Bet introduced Very Wood into the betting for the 2015 World Hurdle at 25/1.

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