On Day Four of the Cheltenham Festival, novices get to strut their stuff in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, also known as the Spa Novices’ Hurdle, showcasing the future stars of British horse racing.
The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is run on Cheltenham’s New Course, which is a left-handed track with a turf surface. With a race length of 3 miles (4,828 metres), it’s an arduous course with twelve hurdle jumps.
The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt long-distance hurdle race for horses aged four and over. The weight restrictions are 10st 11lb on four-year-olds and 11st 7lb on horses aged five or over; there is an allowance of 7lb for fillies and mares. The number of participants is usually close to 20.
The purse for this race is £120,000, with £68,340 going to the winner.
The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle was one of seven new races introduced to the Cheltenham Festival in 2005, when an extra day was added to the overall event. It was originally a Grade 2 race and was sponsored by Brit Insurance. Albert Bartlett took over as sponsor in 2008, and the race was upgraded to Grade 1 in the same year.
The first winner of this race was Moulin Riche, ridden by Robert Thornton. Many winners have subsequently gone on to win prestigious races. For example, Weapon’s Amnesty won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2009, and the following year won the RSA Chase. Bobs Worth, who won in 2011, stormed forth to victory at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2013.
Jonjo O’Neill is the leading trainer in this race, having trained Tony McCoy’s first two winners – Black Jack Ketchum and Wichita Lineman.
Race trends and statistics
- Only four of the previous winners have been the favourites
- Despite winning the inaugural race, no French horse has competed in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle since 2005
- Just two winners have been aged five, with all the other aged six or seven
It’s often tough to make predictions for a race so short of history because trends are harder to spot. However, most winners have had experience of both hurdles and Cheltenham before, and have come in first or second place in their previous run.
Stamina is key in this popular 3-mile race. It’s a hard slog to the end and successful participants are staying novice hurdlers with tons of energy. Because of its length, this race suits chasing horses better than those used to flats.
Contributing to Day Four’s thrilling atmosphere, the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle gives less experienced horses a chance to make a name for themselves on the Cheltenham course, and spectators can enjoy picking who they think will be the winner, and a potential future star of British horse racing.