Jonjo O’Neill clearly doesn’t enter horses into the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle for the fun of it as the only two entrants he has had since the inaugural running of the race in 2005 have gone on to victory.
O’Neill has clearly not trained any stand-out 3m novices in recent years as he has not had an entrant since Wichita Lineman’s success in 2007, but five of his yard are still possibles to take part this time.
There is a minute possibility that all five will line up, with the favoured two in the Cheltenham betting at present being Taquin Du Seuil and Cloudy Copper.
Taquin Du Seuil is the more fancied at 6/1 and this is with good reason, as his only defeat this season in four starts was a fairly narrow loss when conceding weight to Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite My Tent Or Yours.
The big worry is whether the French-bred six-year-old has the stamina to see out all of the 3m of the Albert Bartlett.
He has not raced over anything further than 2m5f yet and connections may well send him to the Neptune Novices Hurdle at the Festival instead.
This is the main reason why the preference is for Cloudy Copper at 14/1, who has 3m form already in the bag this season and is unbeaten in both starts over the obstacles.
His latest victory came against Hold On Julio, which is a fair feather in Cloudy Copper’s cap, even if the runner-up is better over fences.
Shutthefrontdoor is another of the O’Neill clan and is currently available at 16/1 to win the Albert Bartlett.
Having started the season winning over 2m, he stepped up markedly to triumph in a Pertemps qualifier last time, but is another who may be more likely to tackle the Neptune instead at the Festival.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.