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Cheltenham: Difficult to ignore Briar Hill support in Albert Bartlett

| 14.03.2014

The Albert Bartlett is only celebrating its 10th birthday but has already proven to be an excellent springboard for future Festival winners with three horses going on to win in another year, notably Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth back in 2011.

And this year’s renewal looks likely to continue the trend with last year’s Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill set to go off the joint lowest price in the contest’s history.

Ruby Walsh’s partner is yet another star from Mullins’ Closutton galaxy and although he sprung a shock at 25/1 to win the Bumper last season he has looked every bit the part since.

A hat-trick of straightforward victories have followed in Ireland and although on his last two starts he has only had to get the better of three opponents the muffled sounds that can be heard from connections range from positive to increasingly bullish.

Punters have been equally confident in recent weeks and days with the Ricci-family owned-charge available to back at 3/1 a month ago – now only evens.

Some of that momentum has come courtesy of the stable who have already had three winners with Mullins and Walsh sitting on top of their respective tables of success for the week.

The other factor is a weakening of support for the clear alternative to the favourite, David Pipe’s Kings Palace, long billed as a worthy adversary to the Irish challenge.

The son of Kings Theatre is unbeaten in three starts this term and has had Pond House abuzz with bloodless wins in his last two by a combined winning margin of 32 lengths.

Currently 7/2, Tom Scudamore’s partner looks increasingly good value as the price continues to ease but there is no doubting the groundswell of support behind the jolly who has been touted as Mullins and Walsh’s “best chance of the week”.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster