Big Buck’s Hoping For A Fifth World Hurdle Victory

Picture courtesy of RacehorsePhotos

By Charlie McCann

THE Ladbrokes World hurdle is Thursday’s feature race at Cheltenham and I hope to see Big Buck’s (3.20) return to winning ways having finished third here in January on desperate ground coming back from a long absence. No horse since Crimson Embers back in 1986 has won this corresponding race over the age of nine, but if anyone can then surely Big Buck’s, a four-time winner of the race, is the one.

I expect to see jockey Sam Twiston-Davies hang on to Paul Nicholls’ 11-year-old longer than he did in the Cleeve Hurdle last time when lack of a recent run told. Many crabbed the form and it is easy to see why with Knockara Beau a shock winner but I thought it was an excellent return although he will have to be sharper this afternoon.

The principle danger looks to be the wonder mare Annie Power and there are any number of judges who think she is a penalty kick in receipt of 7lbs from the selection but Thomas Muller showed against Arsenal on Tuesday night that even the Germans can miss a penalty and this will be the fastest ground she has encountered to date.

The Ryanair Chase could be a match between the greys with Al Ferof and Dynaste (2.40) set to battle it out and preference is for the latter who was below par in the King George last time but the combination of better ground and drop back in trip will certainly help David Pipe’s charge.

A winner at Aintree last spring the grey bounced off that decent ground and put to bed the theory that he is a better horse in the first half of the season. His 2nd to Cue Card in the Betfair Chase at Haydock earlier in the season is the best form on offer and I would be disappointed if he didn’t go very close.

Ryanair chase: prices from BetVictor;

Benefficient 7/2
Dynaste 7/2
Al Ferof 4/1
Menorah 8/1
10s Bar

I am a big fan of Felix Younger (1.30) and think we will see a better animal on today’s ground than has been the case in Ireland so far this season. For some time he was considered an Arkle horse by connections but this intermediate 2m 5f trip ought to suit and he has always been considered an excellent chasing prospect by Willie Mullins. This has long been the target for Vukovar and Oscar Whisky who look the best of a strong British challenge but Felix Younger just gets the nod ahead of fellow Irish raider Sizing Gold in one of the most informative races of the whole meeting.

The Byrne Group Plate is an ultra-competitive handicap but I think Third Intention (4.00) looks very well treated for the Tizzard yard who must have been so disappointed to pull up stumps for the season with Cue Card. Third Intention will love the ground, is a course winner and can reward each way support at 16/1 with BetVictor.

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