Ladbrokes World Hurdle - Analysis
Big Buck’s heads a bumper 46 entries for this year’s £260,000 Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle, one of the highlights on the third day of The Festival, St Patrick’s Day, Thursday, March 17.
The Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old has made the three-mile hurdling division his own over the past two years, having been undefeated in 10 starts over the smaller obstacles since unseating Sam Thomas in the 2008 Hennessy Gold Cup. He is firmly on course to emulate Inglis Drever and become only the second horse to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle three times and the first to win the contest in three consecutive years.
Nicky Henderson has already spoiled the party for one of Nicholls’ stable stars this season as he saddled Long Run to beat Kauto Star in last weekend’s William Hill King George VI Chase and a quartet of entries from the Seven Barrows handler includes the 2009 runner-up Punchestowns, who has gone on to Grade One glory over fences, and the 2009 Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle hero Zaynar.
Last year’s Grade Three Coral Cup victor Spirit River and impressive recent Cheltenham winner Oscar Whisky may also line up for Henderson, who has previously landed the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with Rustle (1989) and Bacchanal (2000).
A quartet from the stable of Alan King, successful in 2006 with My Way De Solzen, includes Karabak, who got the better of the Donald McCain-trained Any Given Day in the Grade Two Unicoin Homes Relkeel Hurdle at The International in December. King has also entered Irish Grade One runner-up Bensalem, the Unicoin Homes Relkeel Hurdle third Shalone and Walkon, who triumphed in a Grade One Hurdle at Aintree on his latest start in April, 2009.
Madison Du Berlais was the last horse to beat Big Buck’s in the 2008 Hennessy Gold Cup and his owners Roger Stanley and Yvonne Reynolds will be hoping that lightning can strike twice with their progressive hurdler Grand Crus, who followed up an impressive handicap hurdle success at The Open in November with a facile victory in a Listed fixed brush handicap hurdle at Haydock later the same month. The six-year-old’s trainer David Pipe may also be represented by Grade Two winner Ashkazar, who returned to form with a game success in a Cheltenham handicap hurdle on New Year’s Day.
A record 15 Irish-trained entries includes six contenders from the stable of Willie Mullins, headed by a three previous Festival winners. Quevega has posted a pair of impressive wins in the previous two renewals of the Grade Two David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle and took the Grade One Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle on her latest start at Punchestown in April.
Fiveforthree also triumphed in the Punchestown showpiece for staying hurdlers in 2009 and the injury-plagued nine-year-old had previously scored in the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival in 2008, a race that Mullins also captured with Mikael D’Haguenet the following year.
Last season’s Grade One Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle winner Blackstairmountain, Grade Two Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle victor Mourad and Thousand Stars, successful in the Grade Three Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle at last year’s Festival, complete the formidable potential challenge from the Irish champion trainer.
The Charles Byrnes-trained Solwhit, whose six Grade One victories include when successful over two and a half miles in the John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle in April, 2009, may step up to three miles for the first time in his career, while Paul Gilligan has entered last season’s Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle winner Berties Dream.
Three-time Grade Two victor Luska Lad may line up for John “Shark” Hanlon and he could be joined by perennial Cheltenham raider Powerstation, who has been third in the past two renewals of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle for trainer Eamon O’Connell.
Paul Nolan has given an entry to Shinrock Paddy, who landed a Grade One Hurdle as a novice last season, while Edward O’Grady, who has twice been successful in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with Flame Gun (1978) and Mountrivers (1980), may be represented by the 2008 Grade One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle winner Catch Me and Grade Two victor Rigour Back Bob. Fellow Hatton’s Grace Hurdle scorer Oscar Dan Dan, from the stable of Tom Mullins, and the Dessie Hughes-trained Rick complete the potential Irish challenge.
Khyber Kim, trained locally by Nigel Twiston-Davies, found only Binocular too strong in last year’s Stan James Champion Hurdle and the nine-year-old could step back up in trip after ending last term with a facile win over two and a half miles in the Grade One Aintree Hurdle.
Apart from Big Buck’s, Nicholls may also run Organisateur, runner-up to the Nick Williams-trained James De Vassy in Kempton’s Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle last weekend, and Celestial Halo, who won the 2008 JCB Triumph Hurdle and went down by a neck to Punjabi in the following year’s Stan James Champion Hurdle.
Arcalis may return to the scene of his greatest triumph for trainer Howard Johnson, having triumphed in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2005, while Cheltenham specialist Fair Along could make a sixth consecutive appearance at the Festival for trainer Philip Hobbs, who has also entered Duke Of Lucca.
Restless Harry has shown good form around Prestbury Park for Robin Dickin, scoring in the Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Festival Trials Day, while the Peter Bowen-trained Souffleur also boasts Grade Two-winning form, having triumphed in the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock last season.
French import Cristal Bonus, a Grade One runner-up at Auteuil in November, was fifth behind Menorah in the Grade Two StanJames.com International Hurdle on his debut for Evan Williams. The Emma Lavelle-trained Highland Valley was fourth in the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the same meeting.
Mobaasher was third behind Katchit in the 2007 JCB Triumph Hurdle prior to joining Venetia Williams and he may line up against another horse formerly trained by Paul Nicholls, Beshabar, who won a Grade Three handicap hurdle for the champion trainer before moving on to the stable of Tim Vaughan.
A pair of entries from Jennie Candlish consists of Barafundle and Cross Kennon, who took the Listed Jardine Lloyd Thompson Handicap Hurdle at The Open, while last year’s JCB Triumph Hurdle fifth Barwell Bridge could also return to Cheltenham for Warren Greatrex. The Martin Keighley-trained Benbane Head, The Giant Bolster, from the stable of David Bridgwater, and Le Beau Bai, third in the 2009 Welsh National for Richard Lee, complete the entry.
LADBROKES WORLD HURDLE PAST RESULTS
2010-WINNER-BIG BUCK’S 7-11-10 Owner-The Stewart Family; Trainer-Paul Nichols; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-5/6 Fav
2009-WINNER-BIG BUCK’S 6-11-10 Owner-The Stewart Family; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-6/1
2008-WINNER-INGLIS DREVER 9-11-10 Owner-Andrea & Graham Wylie; Trainer-Howard Johnson; Jockey-Denis O’Regan; SP-11/8 Fav
2007-WINNER-INGLIS DREVER 8-11-10 Owner-Andrea & Graham
Wylie; Trainer-Howard Johnson; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-5/1
2006-WINNER-MY WAY DE SOLZEN 6-11-10 Owner-B Winfield,
A Longman, J Wright & C Fenton; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert
2005-WINNER-INGLIS DREVER 6-11-10 Owner-Andrea & Graham
Wylie; Trainer-Howard Johnson; Jockey-Graham Lee; SP-5/1
2004-WINNER-IRIS’S GIFT 7-11-10 Owner-Robert Lester; Trainer-Jonjo
O’Neill; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-9/2
2003-WINNER-BARACOUDA 8-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Francois Doumen
FR; Jockey-Thierry Doumen; SP-9/4 Jt Fav
2002-WINNER-BARACOUDA 7-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Francois Doumen
FR; Jockey-Thierry Doumen; SP-13/8 Fav
2000-WINNER-BACCHANAL 6-11-10 Owner-Lady Lloyd-Webber; Trainer-Nicky
Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-11/2
1999-WINNER-ANZUM 8-11-10 Owner-The Old Foresters Partnership; Trainer-David
Nicholson; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-40/1
1998-WINNER-PRINCEFUL 7-11-10 Owner-Robert Hitchins; Trainer-Jenny Pitman;
Jockey-Rodney Farrant; SP-16/1
1997-WINNER-KARSHI 7-11-10 Owner-Lord Vestey; Trainer-Henrietta Knight;
Jockey-Jamie Osborne; SP-20/12ND-Anzum 6-11-10 Owner-The Old Foresters
Partnership; Trainer-David Nicholson; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-25/1
1996-WINNER-CYBORGO 6-11-10 Owner-County Stores (Somerset) Ltd; Trainer-Martin
Pipe; Jockey-David Bridgwater; SP-8/1
LADBROKES WORLD HURDLE ROLL OF HONOUR
Year Winner Age/Wt Jockey Trainer Owner SP Ran
2010 Big Buck’s 7-11-10 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls The Stewart Family 5/6F 14
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