RACING journalist James Stevens (@JanesStevens180) looks at the long slog that is the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle.
Cheltenham 14:50 | Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle | ITV1
There’s been no hiding how excited connections are about Death Duty, the current ante-post favourite for this one; and you can see why. The six-year-old has been in tremendous form working his way up in class whilst easily dismissing the field every single time.
From an easy Grade Two success he landed Grade One honours by a mighty nine lengths. He’s a horse everyone seems hungry to bet on, and he’s a tasty price too!
One of his biggest threats comes in the form of Wholestone. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ took the trial of this race before winning pattern honours once again. His form has been brilliant and he heads to the Festival in excellent shape, but whether he can beat Death Duty poses a completely different question.
The Snook colours
There’s something about the orange and black colours of John and Heather Snook that many are wary of, especially after Thistlecrack’s romp in the World Hurdle last year.
In this they’re represented by Elegant Escape for Colin Tizzard. His form has been mixed this season, losing out to Wholestone on a few occasions this year.
But his last run saw him go close to Unowhatimeanharry and that makes him a big threat. He’ll win a big race one day, but whether that will be this one is hard to know.
Augusta Kate turned out to be a big disappointment in last year’s Festival when finishing fifth in the Champion Bumper. Yet she is better form and returns to Cheltenham with a good chance for Willie Mullins.
She’s yet to win at the top level but has gone close, including her half-a-length defeat in Aintree’s Grade Two bumper. Last time out she fell in the race, eventually won by Death Duty, it’s hard to tell whether she would of won but she wouldn’t have been too far away from the favourite.
I genuinely believe Death Duty (2/1 10BET) is capable of blowing away the field and win by a mighty margin. I like his form and the incredible way he continues to win easily in Ireland and do hope he can show that quality in the UK. Connections are very bullish, and I can see exactly why.
Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle – Death Duty (2/1 10BET)