The Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle is a Grade 1 Hurdle run on the New Course.
The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, is run on the New Course at Cheltenham over a distance of 3 miles (4,828 metres), with twelve hurdles to be jumped. It will take place on Friday 15th March 2024 | Time: 14:50.
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Officially recorded as the Spa Novices’ Hurdle, it is known as the Albert Bartlett for sponsorship reasons. The race is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race which is open to horses at least four years of age.
The race takes place on the New Course at Cheltenham Race Course and is three miles long, during which there are 12 hurdles to be jumped.
It has been running for 18 years and is a known platform for horses to go on and win other Cheltenham Festival races in the following years.
Winners of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle have gone on to win the RSA Chase, the Stayers Hurdle and the big one, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
That includes the 2019 winner Minella Indo who went on to win the Gold Cup in 2021.
The race has only been going since 2005 due to it being added to the festival schedule when a fourth day was added.
Originally it was a Grade 2 race when Brit Insurance was the original sponsor, but then when Albert Bartlett took over in 2008, it went to a Grade 1.
This race is for novices, which is a hurdler that has not won a hurdle race before the start of the current season. Due to that reason, the purse for the race is often lower than some of the bigger races in the festival.
When the race was first introduced in 2005, the prize money was nearly half of what it is now. Moulin Riche won the race at 9/1 and connections won £43,500 for beating Over The Creek by two and a half lengths.
2019’s total prize fund was £130,630. Minella Indo and Rachel Blackmore won this race and took home £73,506 as a result. They were the surprise package in this race, winning at odds of 50/1. They beat the 4/1F Commander Of Fleet by two lengths.
The prize fund did not increase in 2020 and the winner, Monkfish trained by Willie Mullins, also took home close to £74K.
Due to racing taking place behind closed doors in 2021, the prize fund was reduced. Overall the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle was worth £97,969 in 2021. The 1st place winner was Vanillier for trainer Gavin Cromwell and jockey Mark Walsh with connections taking home £55,127.
By 2022 the prize money was restored to normal with The Nice Guy from Willie Mullins the winner. On board was jockey Sean O’Keeffe.
There was a minor increase in prize money in 2023 when the overall pot was boosted to £135K. Winner, Stay Away Fay, trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden took the spoils of £75,965
Bobs Worth is the most notable winner since the race started in 2005. After winning the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2011 he went on to win the RSA Chase in 2012 followed by the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2013. As a result Bobs Worth was the first horse to win three different Cheltenham Festival races consecutively since Flying Bolt did in the 1960s.
Penhill is another big horse to win this race. He won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2017 and then went on to win the Stayers’ Hurdle the year after. He beat Supasundae by two lengths.
As mentioned earlier Minella Indo is a notable winner. Going off at 50/1 in 2019 he wasn’t given much chance as jockey Rachel Blackmore took to the starting line.
By winning, she became only the second female jockey to ride a Grade 1 winner at the Cheltenham Festival. Bryony Frost was the first, winning the Ryanair Chase on board Frodon at the same Cheltenham Festival in 2019.
Minella Indo then went on to win the Gold Cup in 2021 with Jack Kennedy on board.
2020 Albert Bartlett winner Monkfish also returned in 2021 to win the Brown Advisory Novices Chase (formerly known as the RSA Chase).
Vanillier, who won the race in 2021, was second in the Grand National in 2023.
As the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle is only open to actual novice runners, there are no repeat winners though many do go on to winner bigger races in subsequent years.
AP McCoy is the leading jockey in Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdles history. Over the 14 years over the race he won it three times. This first of which was Black Jack Ketchum in 2006, followed by Wichita Lineman in 2007 and his final one At Fishers Cross in 2013.
The leading trainer is Willie Mullins. With three wins in the race: Penhill (2017), Monkfish (2020) and The Nice Guy (2022) – he pipped Jonjo O’Neill who has two wins.
O’Neill trained two of AP Mccoy’s three winners which were Black Jack Ketchum in 2006 and Wichita Lineman in 2007.
There have been 17 runnings of this particular hurdle race as it was only introduced in 2005 when the Cheltenham Festival had a fourth day added to its schedule. Originally classed at Grade 2 level, Albert Bartlett began supporting the race in 2008 and it has held Grade 1 status since then.
From Wichita Lineman to Bobs Worth, there have been plenty of famous names win this race despite the short length of time it has been around. No horse has ever won it twice, as most novices are no longer in that category the following year but AP McCoy is the leading jockey with three wins with Willie Mullins the leading trainer on three wins.
The Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle is run over a distance of 3 miles (4,828 metres).
Despite the distance, there are only twelve hurdles to be jumped in this race.
AP McCoy holds the record for leading jockey with three wins.
Its roll of honour features Wichita Lineman, Bobs Worth, Minella Indo and Monkfish.
The Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle was worth £135K with the 2023 winner, Stay Away Fay, taking home £75,965.
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