Last year’s race
- Winner: Kilbricken Storm
- Jockey: H Cobden
- Trainer: C L Tizzard
- Owner: A Selway & P Wavish
- Age: 7 Weight: 11st 5lb
- Starting Price: 33/1
- Season Form Figures: 3113
- Previous Best: 1st - Bristol Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2), Cheltenham (Dec 2017)
The Albert Bartlett can be such a brutal examination of a novice’s stamina, and especially on soft ground like in 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2018 which were slogs, so it can lead to surprise results like Kilbricken Storm’s 33/1 success last year.
Experience counts which is no better illustrated by the fact that although this is a race restricted to novices, six of the 14 winners had run over hurdles the previous season. The 2017 winner Penhill, didn’t fit that profile but he was vastly experienced from the flat where he ran 18 times so was battle hardened. He became only the second winner that had run on the flat and the other was in a non-thoroughbred race in France.
Experience counts which is no better illustrated by the fact that although this is a race restricted to novices, six of the 14 winners had run over hurdles the previous season.
The Hyde, Bristol and Classic Novice Hurdles, all Grade 2 events run at Cheltenham at the November, December and late-January Meetings respectively, have featured nine of the 14 Albert Bartlett winners between them so previous Cheltenham experience has been a notable factor so far, especially as there have been four Irish-trained winners and it is rare for the best novice hurdlers to travel over from Ireland before the Festival. The best record of those races belongs to the Classic Novices’ Hurdle won by Birchdale with four of the last 12 winners going on to win and not all winners from Trials Day would have ended up in the Albert Bartlett. Santini was third last season after he won the ‘Classic’.
It was the ‘Bristol’ that was the key guide from Cheltenham earlier in the season in 2017/18 as Kilbricken Storm won both races emulating Black Jack Ketchum, Nenuphar Collonges and Unowhatimeaharry. This season that Grade 2 in December was won by Rockpoint, though Lisnagar Oscar (3rd) comprehensively reversed placings at Haydock in February.
The most notable Irish guide so far has been the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown which last year was upgraded to a Grade 1 and bumped up in trip from 2m4f to 2m6f. This season’s winner, Commander Of Fleet, looks set to be the chief Gigginstown contender and they have won the Albert Bartlett twice and also supplied the close-up second and third in 2015 and looked set to supply the favourite last year, Cracking Smart, until he was injured. Willie Mullins had fired 25 bullets including three favourites and finally got his first Albert Bartlett winner two years ago with Penhill.
Martello Tower and Penhill won the Grade 2 novices’ hurdle over 3m at Limerick over Christmas en route to winning the Albert Bartlett which this season was won by Derrinross.
At a glance summary
- Second-season hurdlers
- Owned by Gigginstown House Stud
- Previous quality novice hurdle form at Cheltenham
- Contested a race over at least three miles before
- Won a pattern race over hurdles
- Fewer than three runs over hurdles