1pt win Thomas Hobson @16/1, Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, Cheltenham 18th March

You won’t see many Willie Mullins-trained pink-silked Grade-1 runners during Festival week going off double-digit odds, but THOMAS HOBSON looks likely to buck the trend in the Albert Bartlett.

Well-fancied stablemates Vautour, Douvan, Djakadam, Min, Limini, Annie Power and Vroum Vroum Mag are all skinny prices for their respective assignments, and recent Festival history suggests most of them will oblige.

The Mullins factor often leads to over-punting or ridiculously short odds on offer for all of his horses, particularly those under Rich Ricci’s ownership.

So why is Thomas Hobson not one of them?

Because he jumps like a whale – I’m not sure ‘jumping’ is even the correct term for his rather direct process of navigating a hurdle.

Despite this, on his recent media stable tour Mullins was succinct and positive on his chance in the Grade 1 staying hurdle for novices on Gold Cup day:

“I’m thinking Albert Bartlett for him. He could be a class horse in the Bartlett.”

With Long Dog, Bachasson, Gangster, A Toi Phil, Up For Review and Blue Et Rouge all entered Mullins could be mob-handed in the race, and the confusion over who’s first choice clouds the market.

A Toi Phil and Gangster are owned by Gigginstown and Bryan Cooper has the pick of those rides, while Blue Et Rouge will surely be ridden by McManus’s retained rider Barry Gerraghty.

That gives Ruby Walsh the pick of the remainder and Mullins’s comments certainly point to Thomas Hobson being the stable’s biggest hope in the race – Mullins also mentioned Long Dog, A Toi Phil and Open Eagle are Neptune bound.

A flat convert, he’s very talented, goes on all types of ground and looks to have the required stamina for this three-mile trip.

His jumping would have to improve to win a race like this, but that’s certainly not out of the question as better ground is so often the remedy.

It’s not hard to buy into the logic that a clear round would see him very hard to beat, and I get the impression he’d carry a great deal of stable confidence if it wasn’t a factor.

Faugheen was a poor jumper in his novice days and made several notable errors on his way to victory in the Neptune two season’s ago; a big engine can be enough.

Thomas Hobson has been nibbled since the stable tour from 20/1 to 16/1, which does look like value, and there seemed little doubt in Mullins’s words that the Albert Bartlett is his race.

The non-runner-no-bet concession is only available through SkyBet, Bet365, Betfair Sportsbook and StanJames, where he trades a best price of 16/1.

If he is confirmed, the likely partnership with Ruby Walsh and the withdrawal of those other Mullins-trained entries may lead to his price collapsing in the run up to post time.

1pt win Thomas Hobson @16/1, Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, Cheltenham 18th March

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