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Horse Racing

Martello Can Tower Over Rivals In Wide Open Albert Bartlett

Thursday 5th March 2015

One of the most wide open novice races of the entire Cheltenham Festival, the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle will be a devilishly difficult task for punters on the final day of the National Hunt jamboree, but the travelling Irish stars dominate the upper echelons of the betting market for the Grade 1 prize for what will be a sensational renewal on March 13.

Main Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Contenders

Willie Mullins is yet to saddle the winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle since the inception of the race in 2005, but the master Irish handler could unleash an an exciting staying hurdler talent in the shape of Black Hercules, who is two from two over hurdles this season.

The six-year-old was fourth in last season's Champion Bumper, but has excelled over timber and having eased to victory on his hurdling debut at Cork, he then comfortably dispatched Alpha Des Obeaux in a Grade 3 event at the same venue, and he is now as 6/1 with William Hill for this prize.

He hasn't been seen on the track since that win in December, so the relatively lengthy absence could be a slight negative, but he has shaped like he would relish this test of stamina and should be given the utmost respect from such a red-hot stable.

Gordon Elliott's No More Heroes is next in the betting at 7/1 with most firms and having landed the Grade 2 Navan Novice Hurdle, he was then unable to land a blow when beaten convincingly by Outlander in a Grade 2 event at Leopardstown.

Having already bagged victory over 2m 6f earlier in his career the Gigginstown House Stud--owned raider should enjoy a step up in trip, but he could just prove vulnerable to a potential improver and may have to settle for the minor honours.

The aforementioned Outlander is entered for this race, but it appears he will head down the Neptune Novices' Hurdle route, but another to take out of that Grade 2 race is the Margaret Mullins-trained Martello Tower, who at 12/1 with Betfred could be a terrific bet for glory.

A winner of a Grade 3 event over Outlander at Limerick, the seven-year-old was then just tapped for toe by Outlander when the pair clashed over 2m 4f last time out, so a return to three miles should Barry Connell's raider at his best and if he can produce his best could be the one to beat.

Dan Skelton's Value At Risk will spearhead the British challenge and he has been earmarked for this race since he was beaten by Ordo Ab Chao at Festival Trials Day at the end of January, and he too is a 12/1 shot with William Hill Bookmakers.

Down the field in the Champion Bumper last year, Skelton has always pointed out his exciting novice will improve for a step up in trip and that showed when he was just unable to quicken in that Neptune trial at Cheltenham several weeks ago, so he has to given major consideration for this renewal.

Nigel Twiston-Davies's Blaklion and Nicky Henderson's Caracci Apache served up a terrific battle in the River Don Novices' Hurdle at Doncaster and they are both hovering around the 14/1 mark and should both play a part if taking their chance, with the former likely to relish the battle he may face coming up the hill at the imminent Cheltenham Festival.

Worth A Second Look

Harry Fry's Thomas Brown will make huge appeal to each-way punters at his current 14/1 odds with the likes of Ladbrokes and Betfred, as he showed he handles the undulations of Prestbury Park when winning on New Year's Day and with more likely to come could be a player.

Dermot Weld has advised punters that Windsor Park will take his chance in this race if the going is good come the final day and the Rosewell House inmate has to be respected at 14/1 with William Hill, but he has been beaten by Martello Tower this season and it's tough to see that form being turned around here.

Out Sam could be the second shot fired by Nicky Henderson and he has impressed with wins at Newbury at Ascot, but this will be a huge step up and he would need to be a top class horse to beat some proven Graded runners, so the 20/1 with Paddy Power is worth avoiding.

With many holding entries in both this and the Neptune Novices' Hurdle, then it's tough to assess what will line up, but the likes of Fletchers Flyer and Definitly Red have been on the upgrade this season and are worth a second look if lining up, whilst Vyta Du Roc and Beast Of Burden are another brace of entries that catch the eye at double-figured odds in what is a wide open betting market.

Conclusion

Black Hercules is entitled to be favourite for this crown having been imperious over timber this season, but having not had a run since the turn of year puts us off somewhat, so it could be worth taking on Willie Mullins' charge with a fellow Irish raider.

Martello Tower has some top notch form in Ireland and whilst he was unable to beat Outlander in Graded company last time out over 2m 4f, he showed when storming to victory over three miles against that rival that he should relish this Albert Bartlett test and he can storm to glory at a juicy double-figured price.

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Tip

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Odds

Tornado Flyer 20/1
Blackbow 20/1
Carefully Selected 20/1
Commander Of Fleet J W Kennedy / G Elliott 20/1
Acey Milan 33/1
Each Way Terms 3
1/5

BEST ODDS
4. Commander Of Fleet J W Kennedy / G Elliott
20/1
Odds correct as of 11th Apr, 15:31 . Odds are subject to change.
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