Published 8th February
The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is a race that rewards stamina and toughness. It regularly turns into a real slog and going into the race with plenty of experience and maturity has proven to be significant for many previous winners. While it is a race that can throw up some unexpected runners that are rerouted from the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle late in the day, one contender that has already been committed to it and makes plenty of appeal is the Philip Dempsey-trained DERRINROSS.
The lightly-raced eight-year-old clearly hasn’t been the easiest to train with him having had just seven starts on the racecourse to date, but he is clearly talented. Making his return from almost a year off the track, he got off the mark over hurdles in fine style when making most of the running to beat Sams Profile in a Grade 3 novice hurdle over three miles at Cork in December.
The son of Saddler Maker gives the strong impression that there is more left in his tank and that the extreme stamina test that the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle tends to represent will suit him very well.
He had never made the running prior to that and only went on as nothing else wanted to. With his ears pricked all the way and seeming to idle all the way down the straight, he gave the impression that he would be even better when getting a lead off something else.
Three weeks later he ran in a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Limerick and again, nothing else wanted to go on, so he ended up making the running again. While he didn’t jump quite as fluently as he had at Cork, he still ran out the cosy winner by ¾-length from Defi Bleu having idled all the way down the straight, again.
The son of Saddler Maker gives the strong impression that there is more left in his tank and that the extreme stamina test that the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle tends to represent will suit him very well. There doesn’t tend to be a lack a pace in the race either, so he will finally get the chance to chase horses rather than lead them, which is likely to be a help to him.
The one note of caution is that he has a preference for soft ground and there will likely need to be juice in the terrain for him to take his chance. If that proves to the case, the increased emphasis that will be put on stamina on softer ground will only play even more to his strengths. He is a very interesting contender at a big price.