Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle 2021 Racecard
The third race on the last day of the Cheltenham Festival, the Spa Novices’ Hurdle – often known as the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – is a Grade 1 race run over approximately three miles of Cheltenham’s New course, during which twelve hurdles are jumped. As the third race on the fourth day, it immediately precedes the Festival’s most famous race of all, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
JOCKEY & TRAINER
As per the ‘Novices’ Hurdle’ part of its name, the race is open to any horse that has not won a National Hunt hurdle race prior to the start of the season in which it is competing.
In its fourteen-year history, the Spa Novices’ Hurdle has been won by two five-year-olds, six six-year-olds, five seven-year-olds and one eight-year-old.
Having been added to the Festival schedule with the addition of its fourth day in 2005, the Spa Novices’ Hurdle has a short history in comparison to some of Cheltenham’s hallowed fixtures.
Nonetheless, it has amassed an impressive roster of winners and placed horses in that time, having been upgraded from a Grade 2 to a Grade 1 contest in 2008, following its now eponymous sponsorship deal with the potato growers, Albert Bartlett.
The race’s most well-known victor is undoubtedly 2013 Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth , who won the Spa Novices’ Hurdle in 2011.
He also won the RSA Chase in 2012, making Bobs Worth the first horse since Flyingbolt in the 1960s to win three different Festival races in three consecutive years.
Other notable winners include 2018 Stayer’s Hurdle winner Penhill (2017) and Wichita Lineman (2008) – a smart albeit largely unexceptional horse, best known for being cajoled into an unlikely comeback by Champion Jockey AP McCoy , in a famous winning ride in the 2009 Festival Handicap Chase.
Wichita Lineman’s victory played a part in making both his jockey and trainer the most successful pliers of their respective trades, in the Spa Novices’ Hurdle.
Having trained both Wichita Lineman and Black Jack Ketchum, Jonjo O’Neill is the only trainer to have won the race more than once, as of 2018.
Minella Indo provided an even bigger upset than the previous season’s 33/1 winner Kilbricken Storm when winning the 2019 renewal at odds of 50/1.