Saturday 16 December 2017

Noel Meade's Very Wood wins Dramatic Albert Bartlett hurdle

Very Wood, ridden by Paul Carberry
Very Wood, ridden by Paul Carberry

Very Wood sprang a huge 33-1 surprise in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle to put trainer Noel Meade back on the Cheltenham Festival roll of honour.

Market leader Briar Hill fell at around halfway, giving David Casey, replacing Ruby Walsh, a nasty fall while Kings Palace folded when leading turning into the straight.

Deputy Dan appeared to be going great guns for Leighton Aspell and Oliver Sherwood, but he was running on empty approaching the last and Very Wood kicked into overdrive.

With 40-year-old Carberry riding for all his worth, Very Wood beat Deputy Dan by four and a half lengths with Apache Jack third.

Meade, who had endured a miserable start to 2014, was without a win at the big meeting since Go Native landed the Supreme Novices' Hurdle five years ago.

The race was delayed by nearly 15 minutes after an incident with Darly Jacob who had earlier won the County Hurdle on Lac Fontana.

On his way down to the start on Port Melon, the horse jinked, dumping Jacob on top of a Channel 4 camera. He was taken away on a stretcher reportedly complaining of a pain in his leg.

Carberry said: "It's brilliant, great for Noel, and I'm delighted to get a winner.

"I know Ruby (Walsh), AP (McCoy) and Barry (Geraghty) always say they are expected to win, but I've come up with a shock, and a good one.

"He travelled and jumped super. He's going to be a lovely chaser.

"I had to gather him up after the third-last, but he stormed up the hill."

Meade said: "It was just fabulous. He had a bruise last night and we thought he wasn't going to run, the team did a brilliant job to get him here.

"You could fancy him if you'd seen his run behind the favourite (Briar Hill, at Naas). He was staying on very well (over two and a half miles).

"It's the trip that makes the difference to him and he's a chaser for next year.

"He's a pretty laid-back customer. Eddie (O'Leary) bought him a field, I think.

"We ended up coming here with only two runners. We thought we had a great team, but they kept getting knocked out and then we got a bug about a month to six weeks ago and we closed up for three weeks and had no runners at all. That's hard to take."

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