14:50 Cheltenham - Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
The Irish have started to dominate this race in recent times, taking each of the last three renewals. Well represented once more, it will take some performance from one of the home team's runners to stop that trend though Hillcrest looks as good as any of the Irish horses on paper and Henry Daly's seven-year-old has been very well backed in the build-up. Impressive when winning at Haydock last time and a course winner previously, his unfortunate unseat two starts ago is easily forgiven (Badly Hampered) and this testing ground looks to be very much in his favour.
Ginto in unbeaten in three starts over timber and he made light work of the step up to Grade One company, when readily brushing aside a quality field at Naas last time. Today's extra yardage is something of an unknown for Gordon Elliott's charge though the form of that Naas race has been franked a couple of times and he is another who should have no issue with the testing ground.
The Nice Guy is impossible to weigh up although he has yet to taste defeat in three races and he absolutely bolted up in a twenty two runner affair last time. Hailing from the formidable yard of Willie Mullins, the trends very much point away from him but he is unlikely to be here for the scenery and a considerable amount of respect is afforded.
Minella Cocooner jumped his rivals into submission at Leopardstown in Grade One company last time, one of four runners for Mullins, he is the pick of stable jockey Paul Townend. Searching through his form, one would have to suggest that he doesn't need to lead though further rain would be a significant concern and he is taken on.
Stag Horn was useful on the level and is one of the better horses from that sphere to go hurdling in recent times, his transition into the National Hunt ranks has gone very well so far and he has won both of his races over obstacles. Quite whether Archie Watson's five year old is up to winning this is open to debate but he warrants serious consideration and will have no issues with the ground.
Falcon Eight, Good Time Jonny and Shantreusse are selected others with claims but Ginto is taken to prove too good and he can hand the Irish a fourth successive victory in the race.
written by Chris Connolly