Major money is on Big Buck’s for Cheltenham Festival win
Big Buck's is the standout name among 46 entries for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on March 17.
Paul Nicholls' champion is unbeaten since reverting to hurdles and has already been installed as the favourite for the race.
He could be joined by stablemates Celestial Halo, a former Champion Hurdle runner-up and the improving Organisateur.
An interesting entry from the Nicky Henderson yard is Punchestowns, currently campaigning over fences, but a former runner-up in the race.
Henderson has sprung another surprise by entering Oscar Whisky, an impressive winner over two-and-a-half miles who was thought to be on the Champion Hurdle trail. Zaynar and Spirit River are other Seven Barrows possibles.
Willie Mullins is another trainer with multiple entries which include Mourad, Mikael D'Haguenet, Fiveforthree and Quevega.
Alan King could run Bensalem, Walkon and Karabak while Nigel Twiston-Davies has given Khyber Kim the option and David Pipe's exciting Grand Crus is a possible.
Solwhit could be a fascinating runner for Charles Byrnes and Luska Lad has been entered by John Hanlon while Robin Dickin is planning on running Restless Harry.
“Restless Harry runs in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday week and I am hopeful that he can run a big race. He is tremendously well in himself and we always said that we would remain over hurdles this season because of his limited mileage,” said Dickin.
“There are probably four or five horses that are quite evenly matched behind Big Buck's, but you should never be scared of taking on one horse — who would have thought that Kauto Star would have got beaten on Saturday?
“It's not his fault that he is competing in the top staying hurdles, but when you run in those kind of races, then you are bound to take on champions like Big Buck's.”
Meanwhile, happy accident Very Well Red registered the 13th success of her career in the Felcourt Handicap at Lingfield.
Peter Hiatt's mare has now hit the target every year since 2007 and she answered William Carson's every call to come home a length and a half clear.
“Her dam and the older sister were like peas in a pod and one was supposed to go off to breed with First Trump and the other with Most Welcome,” said Hiatt of the 9-2 shot. They must have ended up in the wrong boxes as when I sent off the blood tests from Very Well Red, they said she wasn't by Most Welcome.
“I realised what must have happened and I said to test her to see if she was by First Trump — and she was. It has worked out all right. She's not great on the all-weather, but she's really tough and she wins every so often.”
Carson completed a double in the Play Roulette At bluesq.com Handicap when the impressive Cheylesmore (7-1) won going away.
Ladbrokes World Hurdle — sponsors bet: 4-7 Big Buck's, 8-1 Punchestowns, 10-1 Grands Crus, Oscar Whisky, Quevega, 12-1 Mourad, Solwhit, Zaynar, 14-1 Karabak 16-1 Bensalem, Mikael d'Haguenet, 20-1 bar.