Ladbrokes World Hurdle
3m, Cheltenham, Thursday 17 March 1520 GMT
Number, form, horse's name, age, weight, trainer, jockey.
Odds are a guide for information purposes only.
Verdict: Predictable, yes, but it is hard to look beyond BIG BUCK'S claiming a third win in this race and he will justifiably be many people's Festival banker. But he has not been seriously tested this year and the impressive form of Grands Crus will be a danger. This race has not been kind to the Irish in the past but Mourad and Fiveforthree could feature while connections of Zaynar will hope their decision to opt for this race ahead of the Champion Hurdle will pay dividends.
1 Big Buck's 2 Grands Crus 3 Zaynar
1 214224 ANY GIVEN DAY 6 11-10
Donald McCain Jason Maguire
Was probably a bit disappointing last time out at Haydock in the Rendlesham Hurdle but is clearly better than that and can improve on the display. Not without chances but will have to be on top form to figure.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 50-1
2 1-4851 ASHKAZAR 7 11-10
David Pipe Timmy Murphy
A step up to three miles has helped revitalise his season and won on his first attempt at the three-mile trip in handicap company at the Prestbury Park course on New Year's Day. The trainer is confident and he could challenge for a place.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 33-1
3 1-4456 BERTIE'S DREAM 8 11-10
Paul Gilligan Andrew Lynch
The winner of last year's Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at the Festival at big odds (33-1) but has experimented over fences before switching back to hurdles last time out. It is hard to see lightning striking twice with another big win.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 50-1
4 111-11 BIG BUCK'S 8 11-10
Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh
Winner of this race in the last two years and will hope to match the achievement of the great Inglis Drever with his third win. Has looked his usual stylish self in his two runs so far this season, despite not being challenged and is the one to beat.
Rating: 9/10 Odds: 11-10
5CELESTIAL HALO NON-RUNNER
6 61B21 CROSS KENNON 7 11-10
Jennie Candlish Alan O'Keeffe
Landed a notable victory in the Totescoop6 Hurdle at Haydock last month to give Candlish her biggest win to date and give the horse's Cheltenham hopes a boost. To be in the mix in this race would be a dream come true but the opposition may be too good.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 50-1
7 12/1-1 FIVEFORTHREE 9 11-10
Willie Mullins DJ Casey
Came back from a two-year injury absence with an impressive win at Punchestown last month. A dual Grade One winner in his prime, including at the 2008 Festival, if he can recapture that sort of form he could well be in the shake-up.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 12-1
8 12-111 GRANDS CRUS 6 11-10
David Pipe Tom Scudamore
Marked himself out as a serious contender with an impressive win over course and distance in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January - his third victory in a row. But in his first senior campaign, inexperience might prove the grey's undoing.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 9-4
9 13-411 MOURAD 6 11-10
Willie Mullins Paul Townend
Irish-trained horses have a poor record in this race. But a third-placed finish to Zaynar in the 2009 Triumph Hurdle and wins at Leopardstown and Gowran Park earlier this season have strengthened his claims and he could feature in the shake-up.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 9-1
10 10825 POWERSTATION 11 11-10
Eamon O'Connell Davy Russell
Third behind Big Bucks for the last two years at big prices and second to Mourad at Leopardstown at Christmas. But age is not on the Festival regular's side and faces a battle to be in contention.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 66-1
11 33733 RESTLESS HARRY 7 11-10
Robin Dickin Henry Oliver
Both Big Buck's and Grands Crus have proved too good for him already this season at Newbury and Cheltenham and it is unlikely that will change here.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 50-1
12 146132 RIGOUR BACK BOB 6 11-10
Edward O'Grady Andrew McNamara
The outsider of the Irish contingent and finished third behind Mourad and Powerstation in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown which shows the size of his task here. This year is unlikely to be his year.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 100-1
13 04122- SOUFFLEUR 8 11-10
Peter Bowen Tom O'Brien
Another rank outsider who hasn't been seen on course since finishing second to Big Buck's in last year's Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree. Trainer has said he wanted to keep him fresh for the big meetings.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 66-1
14 233-44 ZAYNAR 6 11-10
Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty
Has probably not advanced this season as much as Henderson would have liked and has been struggling with his trip but a recent wind operation could help. Connections, including part-owner Victor Chandler, the well-known bookmaker, opted for this race ahead of the Champion Hurdle.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 20-1