The Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle, known officially as the Spa Novices Hurdle, is the premier 3 mile stayers' novice hurdle in the UK. Elevated to Grade 1 status in 2008, it has been won by a couple of horses that have gone on to successful steeplechase careers, including 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup champion, Bobs Worth.
AB Novices Hurdle trends
The AB Novices Hurdle has a tendency to produce extravagant upsets. The favourite has won the race just twice since it acquired Grade 1 status, while two horses priced at 33/1 have taken victory twice and the remainder have been priced 8/1 or higher.
Three of the last five race winners won last time out, while one achieved a second place finish in his race prior to winning the AB Novices Hurdle.
Only one race stands out as a qualifier for the AB Novices Hurdle, with two horses taking the title after winning the Grade 2 Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham in January.
Also watch out for horses with official ratings of 150 or higher, of which there will be one or two at most in any given year. For the three years where horses with ratings of 150 or higher competed in, and completed, the AB Novices Hurdle, the highest rated horse in the field racked up two wins and a second place.
2016 AB Novices Hurdle field
It's hard to argue against Barters Hill's status as favourite given the fact that he's unbeaten in his career, has a rating of 150 and won a 3 mile AB Novices Hurdle trial at Doncaster last time out. Two of his wins over hurdles have been by margins of 12 lengths or more too, so at 11/4 he looks overpriced and is a good option for a straight back bet.
Gangster won a Grade 3 stayers hurdle at Fairyhouse in December by 10 lengths. Priced at 8/1 at Sportingbet he's a proven stayer and good each-way value.
Another winner of an AB Novices Hurdle Trial race is Uknowhatimeanharry. He won that race at Cheltenham in December as the third leg of a four leg winning streak. With a prior win over 3 miles he can't be discounted, and priced as high as 16/1 is another good each-way selection.