Thursday, January 17, 2013
RECORD ENTRY FOR LADBROKES WORLD HURDLE
A new record of 61 entries has been received for the Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle, with record prize money of £275,000, on day three of The Festival, St Patrick’s Thursday, March 14. The previous highest number of entries was 56, while the maximum number of runners is 24.
Big Buck’s, who set a new record by winning the past four renewals, is not among the entries due to injury but his trainer Paul Nicholls has six in the 2013 three-mile hurdling championship headed by Grade One-winning chasers Tidal Bay (6/1 with the sponsor) and Kauto Stone (20/1) plus unexposed French import Wonderful Charm (25/1).
Oscar Whisky (7/1) has been in imperious form this season, winning the Grade Two Ascot Hurdle and the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham by an aggregate of 28 lengths. The eight-year-old heads seven entries for trainer Nicky Henderson and could clash with impressive Grade One Long Walk Hurdle victor Reve De Sivola (8/1), trained by Nick Williams, in the Grade Two Rewards4Racing Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, Saturday, January 26.
Other notable British-trained entries include Peddlers Cross (10/1) David Pipe’s pair Grands Crus (12/1) and Dynaste (20/1) who have been running in chases, as well as exciting novice hurdler Coneygree (16/1), trained by Mark Bradstock.
The 17 Irish-trained entries are headed by 10 from champion trainer Willie Mullins, whose possible representatives include four-time OLBG Mares’ Hurdle heroine Quevega (the 5/1 favourite with Ladbrokes) and Grade One winners Zaidpour (14/1) and Thousand Stars (14/1).
Monksland (8/1), trained by Noel Meade, relished the step up to three miles when a comfortable winner of the Grade Two Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown, beating Zaidpour by two and a half lengths. The pair had previously met in the Grade One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle over two and a half miles, with Zaidpour coming out on top by the same margin.
Monksland, who has not been out of the first three in seven starts under Rules, is now being prepared for a trip to Cheltenham.
Meade said on Tuesday: “All is well with him at the moment and the plan is to run Monksland in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. I am just giving him an easy time - a bit of break - and then we will start building him up for Cheltenham.
“We were hopeful he would get the three miles at Leopardstown because he was staying on well in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle but maybe the way the race was run suited us. The leader went off at a hell of a gallop and perhaps the favourite followed him sooner than he should have, but Paul (Carberry) was very good on Monksland.
“With Big Buck’s out of it, the World Hurdle has opened up. Monskland obviously stays well but he isn’t a slow horse and has the speed to win over two miles.
“The plan is not to run him before Cheltenham and we are hoping there could be a bit more improvement to come from him. We have been purposely easy on him, as he is a very clear winded horse and doesn’t take a lot of work to get fit. We are hoping by keeping him fresh that we will be able to prolong his longevity.”
Another notable Irish entry is Dermot Weld’s 2010 Ascot Gold Cup hero Rite Of Passage (not quoted by Ladbrokes), who defied a 510-day absence to win Grade Three QIPCO Long Distance Cup, also on the Flat, at Ascot in October. He has won on two of his three starts over hurdles and came third to Peddlers Cross in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at The Festival in 2010.
Hayley O’Connor of Ladbrokes said: “The absence of the heroic Big Buck's means this year’s race is the most open it has been for years. We’re extremely pleased to see the depth and quality of the entries which suggests this will be a highly-competitive and intriguing renewal of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.”