3m (New) Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices’ Hurdle) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (5yo+)
It’s a race that has had no more than two winners at odds of less than 10/1 in the last ten years, and this renewal looks like one of the most competitive races of the meeting overall. So there is no good reason not to take a big price in a race which can often see a horse improve beyond all recognition from previous formlines.
Corbetts Cross, the fav, does look like he is an exciting, versatile hurdler who was recently acquired by JP McManus. Having won a handicap hurdle over 3m on heavy ground on his penultimate start, he beat a very good horse in Found A Fifty over 2m on good ground. That was some effort 19 days ago and he could be tough to beat as he looks classy.
But I think this can go the way of Gordon Elliott. He enters three in here with Three Card Brag the shortest of the trio at odds of 9/2. He looks a certain stayer and should be there or thereabouts.
But preference is for eight-year-old, FAVORI DE CHAMPDOU who has not been the easiest to train, but for whom has progressed hugely over the course of this season. After a year absence, he claimed a maiden hurdle at Thurles before putting two even better performances in which included a comfortable Grade 2 success over the re-opposing Letsbeclearaboutit last time out.
Favori De Champdou will have no issues with the testing ground and I can see this race turning into a real slog. He appears to have a great constitution and has already demonstrated his quality over this distance. I also like a horse that only does just what he needs to win, which has been the case so far, and so it’s hard to know just how good he really is.
I also really like the form of the Grade 3 Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle that was run at Clonmel last month between Hiddenvalley Lake, Monty’s Star and SEARCH FOR GLORY. I could have tipped either one of them as they all have their merits and there was only a couple of lengths separating them, but whereas Hiddenvalley Lake is trading at 7/1, you can currently get odds as big as 28/1 on Search For Glory.
Now I fully appreciate that on the bare evidence that Search For Glory has to step up to reverse the form, especially as he was getting 6lbs from Hiddenvalley Lake. But Search For Glory remains very lightly-raced, arguably outjumped his main rivals and he still seemed a little bit green during the race. He looks the type to improve with racing and his sire, Fame And Glory, already has a winner in this race courtesy of The Nice Guy last year.
Consequently, I think he is exceptional value and well worth a punt.
Both Monty’s Star and Seabank Bistro could fit into the category of horses that can continue to show heaps of improvement, but I’ll play with the two Gigginstown horses.
1pt win Favori De Champdou @11/1, 14:50 Cheltenham, Friday
1pt win Search For Glory @28/1, 14:50 Cheltenham, Friday