‘Mahler Allstar kept on nicely on his hurdles debut and looks a strong stayer in the making’
FRIDAY 2.30 ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE
JOSH DOWN 1. Torygraph 2. Stattler 3. The Cob This race has a history of big-priced winners and at the time of writing they’re 6-1 the field, so it could be the same again. Torygraph has been excellent since stepping up in trip and looks an ideal type for this contest. He races behind the bridle and finds plenty when asked. Two lengths split Stattler and Fakiera at Leopardstown recently and they should both improve for three miles. The Cob needs to be supplemented but he won as he liked at Doncaster and shouldn’t be discounted. SAM HARDY 1. Farouk D’alene 2. Minella Escape 3. Barbados Buck’s To win this race you need a real staying type and Farouk D’alene fits the bill nicely, having won a Grade 2 at Limerick. In recent years the form of that race has been strong with two winners going on to win the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham, namely Penhill and Martello Tower. JACK HAYNES 1. Barbados Buck’s 2. Torygraph 3. Fakiera You don’t tend to see many future Cheltenham Festival winners at Southwell in December, but I was really impressed with Barbados Buck’s that day and his subsequent Kempton victory makes him a leading contender. It takes a good horse to defy a double penalty in a novice hurdle and the Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old did just that. He is a strong stayer and gives the impression there is more to come. There is plenty to like about his chances in another open race. BEN HUTTON 1. Mahler Allstar 2. Ashdale Bob 3. Limestone Rock This attritional novice hurdle is one of the best races at the festival to take a chance on one at a sizeable price, with six of the last seven winners going off at double-figure odds and three at 33-1 or bigger. Mahler Allstar kept on nicely over 2m4f at Leopardstown on his hurdles debut behind Stattler and looks a strong stayer in the making. Ashdale Bob’s Leopardstown run was too bad to be true and he’s an interesting contender on his earlier form. TOM PARK 1. Barbados Buck’s 2. Stattler 3. Alaphilippe Barbados Buck’s looked very good when winning at Kempton last time and looked frighteningly similar to his dam’s half-brother Big Buck’s with his giant frame and sheepskin noseband. Of course, he is a long way off emulating anything like Big Buck’s but there has been lots to like about his last three wins and he looks sure to enjoy this test. Stattler brings the best form into the race from Ireland, while Alaphilippe also looks sure to appreciate this test after his gutsy Haydock win. MADDY PLAYLE 1. Fakiera 2. Alaphilippe 3. Torygraph Fakiera has been my selection for this race for a long time after equipping himself admirably in some of the best staying novice hurdles in Ireland. He has been strong at the finish in all of his races and is tough enough to win what can be an attritional race. Alaphilippe might have gone under the radar after winning at Haydock but ranks highly, as does Torygraph.