14:50 Cheltenham Fri 16 March 2018
- Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices' Hurdle) (Class 1)
- 2m 7f 213y, Soft (Heavy in places)
- 20 Runners
- Surface: Turf
Started favourite on all his starts so far winning his bumper impressively and then absent for a year before making his hurdling debut. Beaten on that initial run he made amends on his next start showing a good attitude amongst some inexperience.
Has plenty of experience over hurdles and showed that he handles deep ground when winning back-to-back hurdles either side of Christmas. Not hard to have doubts about his ability over this trip after he failed to stay 2m6f last time; may struggle.
Arrived from France as a chaser but suited by a return to hurdling winning three times and scoring in a competitive handicap last time. Appeared suited by the change of tactics there (held-up) and will handle deep ground; travels strongly.
His form has improved leaps and bounds since he's been racing over staying trips often travelling strongly and looking at home on deep ground. His last win in a Grade 2 hurdle at Haydock placed him very much in the picture for this race; stays well.
Took a huge step forward on his debut for this yard, stepped straight up to 3m relishing the test and coming well clear of toiling if underperforming rivals. That puts him in the picture for this race; stable had the second in the race last year.
Given his pedigree it was no surprise to see him improve when given a chance over 3m winning a Ludlow handicap in easy fashion. Failed under a penalty to win again but ran with credit; now steps up in grade and will find this a whole lot tougher.
Connections lost their main candidate for this event but he looks a good substitute having improved with every run and looks suited by a test. Not disgraced up in class last time although he does have ground to make up with Tower Bridge on that run.
Now starting to fulfil the promise that he showed earlier in his career and showed plenty of stamina and resolution when winning a Grade 2 last time over 3m (Calett Mad 4th). On his way to proving a smart stayer and will relish this test.
Winner of a Cork Grade 3 by a wide margin (third hurdle win) he barely needed to improve to follow up that victory at Limerick. Handed a heavy defeat in a Grade 1 behind Tower Bridge last time (might have done too much early); has something to prove.
Having won a 2m novice he was upped markedly in trip (3m) to gain a win in a Cheltenham Grade 2 beating a small field. He showed good resolution there but failed confirm his previous form two weeks later and now comes here given a good break.
Unbeaten over hurdles until he turned in a rather lacklustre performance last time out suggesting the race may have come too quickly. May need more time to fulfil his promise although he can't be totally ruled out here based on his previous form.
Turned in a gutsy effort when trying to make all in the Challow at Newbury under an ultra-attacking ride (just caught by Poetic Rhythm). The effects of that hard race appeared to remain last time out (ran poorly) and he'll need to bounce back.
A fragile sort he does have a lot of potential and looks to be living up to that after his last win where he relished the 2m5f trip; the furthest he's tried. Looks as though there is better to come if he can be kept sound; interesting runner.
Tough sort who has a stamina-laden pedigree but despite running well in his last two races he still only has a single win to his name. Showed that he deserved his chance at this level when running second in a Grade 2 but likely to come up short.
Already a winner at Grade 1 level (as well as Grade 2) with his form working out well overall, he made the most of his experience to tough out a win in the Challow. He appears to relish a slog in the mud and should improve for this test.
Steps up to a mile in trip from his three runs for this yard so far but looks to have gone backwards from his initial win (both subsequent runs at Grade 1 level). Tried with different tactics last time and hard to know what to expect here.
Took advantage of a good opportunity last time out winning easily at short odds and will find this a bigger test. Won that race with plenty in hand building on two good previous outings but does need to find some more improvement.
Unbeaten in two starts so far he had looked smart on his debut and proved he was when winning a Grade 2 staying on strongly to beat Black Op (2nd in the Ballymore). Will be suited by this trip but does lack a little in experience this event.
Given an increased test of stamina, he won well on his handicap debut appearing to relish the testing ground. Steps up in grade and back into novice company now; that gives him a stiffer task to overcome.
Left his previous efforts over hurdles well behind when beating two of today's rivals last time out over 2m6f. That run replicated his previous good bumper form and he could step forward on that given a greater test.
Last Year's Winner
|T: W P MullinsJ: P Townend|
Santini (11/4), Chris's Dream (6/1), Chef Des Obeaux (6/1), Poetic Rhythm (10/1), Dortmund Park (12/1), Ok Corral (16/1), Mr Whipped (16/1), Calett Mad (16/1), Ballyward (20/1), Fabulous Saga (20/1), Enniscoffey Oscar (25/1), Talkischeap (25/1), Kilbricken Storm (33/1), Tower Bridge (33/1), Real Steel (33/1), Paisley Park (33/1), Robin Waters (50/1), Beyond The Law (50/1), Mulcahys Hill (50/1), Crucial Role (66/1)
- Poetic Rhythm
- Chef Des Obeaux
- Chris's Dream
WHAT THE TRAINERS SAY
Nicky Henderson - Santini, Chef Des Obeaux, OK Corral, Mr Whipped: "I took Santini out one day at Ascot because it was soft, then I ran him back here on the soft and he went through it well, so hopefully he will be fine."
"This is totally Chef Des Obeaux's ground, but he is an absolutely useless work horse. I thought he is as slow as they come. He won well last time, though.
"Ok Corral should be fine on the ground. He has been fragile, but he is going the right way now and Barry (Geraghty) said we should up him to three miles as that will make it easier for him.
"The track (Musselburgh) was totally against Mr Whipped last time. I switched him at the last minute to run him up there and I shouldn't have done as I hadn't got him ready. Whether this ground will be to Mr Whipped's liking, I am not sure. They are four very different horses."
Patrick Mullins - Ballyward, Real Steel, Fabulous Saga: "Ballyward is the right sort of horse for the race in that he's a horse who stays well. The worry would be it tends to suit horses with plenty of experience and obviously he's only had the two runs over hurdles.
"Real Steel is stepping up a mile in trip, but both myself and Paul (Townend) felt the step up would help him improve.
"Fabulous Saga has lots of experience. He's in good form, but his two best performances have come when the ground has been very wet, so I just wonder how he'll handle it if it ends up being more tacky."
Henry de Bromhead - Chris's Dream: "I was pleasantly surprised last time and he did it nicely. I suppose this is the kind of ground he wants. We got him before Christmas. We liked him, but we didn't expect him to do it like that.
"He seems in good form and looks really well, but we will find out just how good he is on Friday. He is very straightforward at home."
Warren Greatrex - Mulcahys Hill: "It was my fault last time as I ran him too soon after the Challow and he ran a bit flat. I should have given him longer to get over the Challow as it was only four weeks earlier, but you live and learn.
"He was not far off beating Poetic Rhythm in the Challow and I know three miles will suit him better. He is giving me the impression he is in very good form and the softer the ground, the better for him."
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