Harry Cobden celebrates on Kilbricken Storm

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle report: Kilbricken Storm grinds out success


The Colin Tizzard-trained Kilbricken Storm (33/1) won the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Tizzard was claiming his first Cheltenham Festival winner of the week as the seven-year-old impressively powered up the final climb to beat two Nicky Henderson-trained runners - Ok Corral (16/1) and staying-on 11/4 favourite Santini - by three lengths and a length.

Fabulous Saga set a gruelling tempo up front and after shaking off the attentions of Chris's Dream, looked to hold a commanding lead at the second last, but Kilbricken Storm was able to bridge the gap going to the final flight and the front-runner eventually finished out of the places after being swamped close home.

Willie Mullins' Ballyward was best of the Irish back in fourth, with Tower Bridge fifth for trainer Joseph O'Brien.

The winner was ridden by 19-year-old Harry Cobden, who was claiming the first Festival success of his career.

Tizzard said: "It's fantastic. He just travelled really well, he was fifth or sixth and then just moved into it - I was waiting for the cavalry to come, and they didn't. You have seen it all week, they've been coming and grabbing the ones in front, but they didn't get him.

"He had pus in a foot (earlier this week) but it hasn't stopped him."

Kilbricken Storm on his way to Albert Bartlett glory

Tizzard added: "None of us knew how good he was and we didn't know he was going to do that, did we. I knew he would stay. We had his shoe off three times last week with the dreaded pus. It was touch and go running him.

"I bought him at the Doncaster Sales for £22,000 and I had to push the boat out to go to £22,000! It goes to show that the beauty of National Hunt racing is you can pick up these horses for around £20,000 and win the biggest staying novice hurdle of the season.

"It is easy for me to say it wasn't his running at Newbury, but he hadn't really beaten anything up to today. We had no justification thinking he was going to run like that and beat the best novices in this country and Ireland by five lengths. He will go novice chasing next year, as he has won a point to point."

Cobden said: "He's a proper stayer. I didn't thing he was without a chance today. He's tough, he's a proper tough cookie. I was probably a bit handier than I wanted to be, but he travelled so well and jumped great. He's a lovely horse, I'm so lucky to ride him. This is something I have dreamed of."

OK Corral's owner JP McManus said: "He's run a lovely race, but he just found one too good. We haven't thought about next year, he's a horse who's had plenty of problems, so we'll just see."

Richard Kelvin-Hughes, owner of Santini, said: "In bottomless ground he's run a tremendous race. Nico (de Boinville) gave him a great ride in the circumstances, looking after him, as we all know he's a horse for the future.

"He'll definitely be going novice chasing next season, that's what he is, and it's even more exciting that I bred him. I can't help but feel that if he'd run on Tuesday's ground it would have been different, but that's racing."

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