This race has been giving me a headache for a while now and I'll explain more in my selections below. The Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle over just shy of 3m's has seen a few superstars win in the past. Bobs Worth and Weapons Amnesty are just a couple of horses who have gone onto big things over fences and I feel that we are about to witness another.
Six and seven year olds have the best record in this race although Very Wood halted that trend when winning in 2014. Favourites have a decent record and I'm hoping that continues this year.
I've been pulling my hair out at the thought of Ben Pauling running this horse anywhere else but here. I'm praying that Mr Pauling avoids the match up against Yanworth in the Neptune and goes for this race. I'm going to stick my neck on the line and say that if Barters Hill runs here then he'll win. When the chips are down this horse grinds it out and ever since he beat Bellshill at Aintree I said to myself this horse will love it at Cheltenham. I do think that he's a bit of a monkey and likes to keep a little in reserve but as soon as he knows he's in a race he finds more. He won at Doncaster beating Ballydine but I'm certain he still had something left up his sleeve. There was no way that Ballydine was going passed him. I'm not quite sure he's in the same class as Yanworth but it will take an extremely good horse to beat him here.
Shantou Village had a perfect record of three runs and three wins before taking on Yanworth at Cheltenham in January. Yes he was brushed aside by 7l's but he's lost little in defeat as Yanworth is an absolute monster. Yanworth barely got off the bridle that day and was laughing at Shantou Village but they pulled a mile clear of the third and that form could be very good. The step up to 3m's will suit as it appeared Shantou Village was staying on right to the line against Yanworth. He has it all to do to beat Barters Hill but Shantou Village would be my selection for the forecast.
This horse has lots of ability but is hard to train. He's suffered a few setbacks but now looks to be on the right path. Willie Mullins has said that his work at home has been fantastic this Grade 3 winner is probably the horse that will give Barters Hill a scare or two. The Grade 3 he won was over 3m so there is no problem with the trip. That form possibly isn't the strongest but Gangster couldn't have won any easier. Gangster will look to pick off Barters Hill in the home straight but like I said before - It'll take a special horse to pass him.