The World Hurdle is the highlight of the Thursday at the festival, and has thrown up some fabulous horses, including in recent years Baracouda and Inglis Drever, and of course last year, Big Bucks entered the record books being the first horse to win three in a row. It is no surprise to see this behemoth of three mile hurdling already an odds on shot for this race. He’s not been beaten since returning to hurdling after unseating Sam Thomas in the 2008 Hennessey. When we look at the success of what he has beaten, especially Grand Crus chasing, it sinks in just how good he is. It is plainly obvious why he is such a short priced favourite so early in the year, and it will take a serious horse to beat him.
The current most fancied to do just that is the Henderson trained Oscar Whiskey. He’s already hacked up twice at Cheltenham this season, and has form over Thousand Stars too. He is avoiding the Cleve, so it is unlikely they will meet before the festival. Henderson is best associated with producing superstar hurdlers, and this gelding, by the high class national hunt stallion Oscar could throw down a strong challenge to the Nicholls giant.
There are two mares also attracting attention in the markets, Quevega and Voler La Vedette, though realistically the former of these will go and contest her race in the mares. Voler La Vedette is probably the best Irish based three mile hurdler on current form, and her recent comfortable dispatches of last years well fancied, Mourad, who finished third at the festival last year, she’s got really good place claims and it’s possible to make a strong case for her. Continuing on the Irish theme is So Young, he’s been competed mainly in 2 mile heavy events this winter, but there is a lot of talk of him going for the younger trip for the festival. He’s dipped a toe in staying hurdling, and could prove an interesting recruit to the top level. Also from the emerald isle, Mikael D’Haugenet is attracting some support, now no longer chasing, after it was established he can’t actually jump. While he has plenty of class he could have a lot to find with Voler La Vedette on their Lismullen hurdle form from November.
This is a really competitive World Hurdle, if most of the top ten in the market make it, and will not simply be a Big Bucks cake walk. While he will be a hard horse to beat, and there is more than a reasonable chance he could become the first horse to win four world hurdles, strongest cases to oppose him can be made for Oscar Whiskey and Voler La Vadette.
Thanks to @emmyKGtS for this guest post.