Monalee preferred to Death Duty in the Albert Bartlett

With the Gordon Elliott stable firing on all cylinders, Death Duty could be one of the best-backed horses at the Festival when he lines up for the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle on Friday.

The son of Shantou has not put a foot wrong in his hurdling career to date with four victories from as many races by a combined total of nearly 30 lengths.

His 9 length defeat of Turcagua at Naas last time out does not tell the whole story though with Augusta Kate falling at the final flight when coming to make her challenge. Had she stood up and finished ahead or close to Death Duty on that occasion would the favourite still be a 2/1 chance to win here?

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Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle    
Tips Monalee (each-way)    Best Bet @ 8 / 1 P

The other key thing to note is that Death Duty is yet to race on genuinely good ground. His hurdling campaign so far has been at 2m 4f on soft-heavy ground so 3 miles on a quicker surface is something of an unknown.

He looks the most likely winner of the race, has been well touted by his trainer, and with the stable in such fine form, he could land a big Irish gamble. But at 2/1 I think he has been found in the market so I’m happy to look elsewhere.

Augusta Kate and Wholestone head list of dangers

The obvious one to take him on with is Augusta Kate who may have beaten Death Duty when falling in that Grade 1 at Naas. Unlike the favourite, she has been to Cheltenham before, but could finish only seventh in last year’s Champion Bumper. There may be one or two better than her on the day.

The other main rival to Death Duty according to the betting is Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Wholestone. He has won 4 of his 5 races this season with three of those coming at Cheltenham. His one defeat did come at Prestbury Park though, when he finished a length behind Peregrine Run on good ground in November. He is sure to be in the mix, but is another who may fall just short.

Monalee should relish the trip and ground

The horse that really interests me in this race is Monalee who finished runner up to Death Duty at Navan in December. The Henry de Bromhead trained six year-old is a real chaser in the making who has already won over 3 miles and will appreciate every yard of the trip and the stiff uphill finish.

Over half a mile further than their previous meeting, I think Monalee has a decent chance of turning the tables on the favourite. What’s more, being a son of Milan he may appreciate the quicker ground more than the others so at a general 8/1 I think he’s a cracking each-way bet.

2017 Albert Bartlett Odds

Posted: Thursday, 16th March 2017
Author: Paul Dunn

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