Albert Bartlett becomes probable Cheltenham race for Boston Bob
Boston Bob has never previously taken on 3m over hurdles, but this has not stopped the horse being backed into 5/2 in the Cheltenham odds to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
Which race the seven-year-old will contest remains one of the great mysteries of the Festival as he is also the same price to win the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle over 2m5f.
This initially seemed the most likely option given that his three races in Ireland this season have been contested over a similar distance and have all resulted in victories.
However, the latest developments in the Cheltenham betting suggest that connections are favouring a step up in trip.
Trainer Willie Mullins has continued to keep his cards close to his chest and despite the Festival now only being a week away, he feels it is still too early to make a decision regarding the race choice for Boston Bob.
One factor which may influence his decision is that the Neptune looks the more competitive contest on paper, especially given the recent decision that fellow market leader Simonsig will tackle the race over the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Mullins has previously stated that Boston Bob is the best novice hurdler that he is bringing to the Festival so after such praise, it would be an anti-climax if he was then beaten.
Therefore, the Albert Bartlett is perhaps the safer option, given that his main challenger is expected to be Mount Benbulben, who Boston Bob has already beaten this season at Navan.
Excuses have been made since and there is every chance that Mount Benbulben will lay down a greater challenge at Cheltenham, where he can be backed at 5/1.
Of the remainder, Rocky Creek was a taking winner at Doncaster in January and a repeat could see him finish close to the leading Irish duo at 6/1.