Gangster can gun down his rivals in the Albert Bartlett
David Metcalf | March 16, 2016
Gangster to call the shots in Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
Gangster looks decent value to inflict a first defeat on Barters Hill in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival (14:50).
The gelding was bought by the Gigginstown House Stud following two runs in France, and made a winning debut for champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins when easily landing a minor contest at Roscommon last June.
Gangster then disappointed when sent off odds-on at Galway and finishing just fifth, but bounced back to slam After Rain by eight lengths at Listowel on his final start last season.
Despite the ease of the success, the six-year-old looked far from the finished article and the type that would do much better once he strengthened up and filled into his frame.
Fairyhouse win oozed class
That view was confirmed when Gangster took the step up into Grade 3 company in his stride to make a winning return to action over 3m at Fairyhouse.
After being settled behind the leaders, Gangster made smooth headway to take up the running two from home before surging clear to beat Last Encounter easily by 10 lengths.
It was a most taking performance which marked Gangster out as a very exciting prospect that needed keeping firmly onside.
Another plus is that Gigginstown know what is required to win the race have seen their famous purple colours with a white star carried to victory by Weapons Amenesty in 2009 and Very Wood in 2014.
Barters Hill won’t go down without a fight
Barters Hill is unbeaten in six starts under rules and is sure to give Gangster plenty to think about.
The Ben Pauling trained six-year-old was a top class bumper performer, and won his first two starts over hurdles this season in impressive fashion.
Barters Hill was made to work hard to land the hat-trick in a Grade 2 contest at Doncaster when last seen in action, but was far from fluent at several of the obstacles and dug deep when challenged on the run-in to beat Ballydine by 3/4 of a length.
Brave effort under the circumstances
The gelding stuck his head out bravely under jockey David Bass to win a shade cosily at the line, and it later transpired that he had lost a front shoe early in the race.
That may well account for why Barters Hill made mistakes, and in the circumstances it was a solid enough effort
Although not a flashy type, Barters Hill’s is a real tough customer and his “thou shalt not pass” attitude is going to make him a tough not to crack.
Coral’s top tip: Gangster has a progressive profile and looks the value bet to inflict a first defeat on Barters Hill.