Today's racecards

World Hurdle A-Z

Last Updated: 12/03/14 1:09pm

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At Fishers Cross: Can he win again at the Festival?

At Fishers Cross: Can he win again at the Festival?

Sky Bet

Our man Mark Crellin goes through the Ladbrokes World Hurdle field.

ANNIE POWER

Trainer: Willie Mullins

Jockey: Ruby Walsh

Brilliant unbeaten mare with the world at her feet and had the temerity to usurp Big Buck's as ante-post favourite for this race once it was confirmed as her Festival target.

Has easily beaten Zarkandar twice this season, once at this track, and should be tough to beat getting weight from all the chaps but is going into the unknown here in terms of trip and class of race. Quickish ground also a slight question mark and opposable at a very short price. Rating 9/10

AT FISHERS CROSS

Trainer: Rebecca Curtis

Jockey: AP McCoy

Brilliant last spring, powering to victory in the 3m novice events here and at Aintree, but has been fluffing his lines this season, with jumping errors usually to blame.

However, showed a lot more when touched-off in the Cleeve Hurdle here last time and is likely to be a lot more spring-heeled on the better ground he will encounter this time. Seasonal best expected and that will put him right in the thick of things. Rating 10/10

BIG BUCK'S

Trainer: Paul Nicholls

Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies

One of the greatest staying hurdlers in history and won a scarcely credible 18 races in a row before injury derailed his bid for a fifth victory in a row in this race last season.

Shaped with promise on his return when third in the Cleeve after possibly hitting the front too early and the crowd will go bonkers if this hugely popular performer can somehow prevail, but not a great betting proposition at a short price against some very promising youngsters. Rating 8/10

CELESTIAL HALO

Trainer: Paul Nicholls

Jockey: Daryl Jacob

Fantastic performer over the seasons, winning the Triumph here back in 2008, and still going strong last year, when he was second in this.

An easy win in a Newbury Grade Two this season showed there was plenty of life left in him yet but this race is stronger than last year's and will do very well to place again. Rating 4/10

MALA BEACH

Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Jockey: C Colgan

Won a Grade 2 over in Ireland last time in good style but that was probably not a great race and now races in Britain for the first time with it all to prove on quicker ground and against quicker rivals. Rating 3/10

MEDINAS

Trainer: Alan King

Jockey: Wayne Hutchinson

Bounded to victory in the Coral Cup here last year but this is obviously far tougher and two second-placed efforts this season (miles behind Celestial Halo last time) suggest he will not be up to the job. Rating: 1/10

MORE OF THAT

Trainer: Jonjo O'Neill

Jockey: Barry Geraghty

Nice, progressive youngster who has won all four of his starts, beating Salubrious to take a Grade 2 last time over an extended two and a half miles here.

Possibly worth an each-way look but the market leaders appear to be very strong, AP McCoy prefers At Fishers Cross, and there was some doubt earlier in the week as to whether he would even run. Rating 4/10

QUEVEGA

Trainer: Willie Mullins

Jockey: Paul Townend

Brilliant mare and a true Cheltenham great, having just won Tuesday's OLBG Mares' Hurdle for the sixth year in a row but may not turn out again just two days later and facing a much tougher task here in any case. Rating 5/10

REVE DE SIVOLA

Trainer: Nick Williams

Jockey: Richard Johnson

Very good staying hurdler who won the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle for the second year in a row at Ascot in December but particularly effective when the mud is flying and tends to fall short on quicker ground in the spring, as when only fourth in this last year. Rating 3/10

RULE THE WORLD

Trainer: Mouse Morris

Jockey: Bryan Cooper

Stayed on to be a four-length second behind The New One in a novice hurdle at this track last year and that is obviously top-notch form.

Has been pottering around in Ireland this season to pretty decent effect and made all to win a Grade 3 last time, which should tee him up nicely for this. Good each-way claims. 8/10

SALUBRIOUS

Trainer: Paul Nicholls

Jockey: Nick Scholfield

Festival victory to his name but that came in a conditional jockeys' handicap hurdle. Has proved this season he can compete at a higher level but three second-place finishes in a row suggest he will find it tough here. 2/10

ZARKANDAR

Trainer: Paul Nicholls

Jockey: Noel Fehily

Very reliable and classy performer at a variety of trips and on a variety of ground, with the only problem being he generally finds one a bit too classy.

Beaten into second by the likes of Annie Power (twice) and The New One this season and, while there is no disgrace in that, it may be a similar story here. Rating 7/10

VERDICT: Racing fans will be unanimous in hoping the great Big Buck's can land a fifth win in this race but, just when his powers may be slightly on the wane, he appears to be facing his toughest task yet in this contest, with at least three young, potential top-notchers arrayed against him.

Annie Power and Rule The World will deservedly have their followers but we will go for At Fishers Cross, who looked a prime candidate for the race when winning at this meeting last year and showed plenty in unfavourably heavy going last time out.

1: AT FISHERS CROSS

2: Annie Power

3: Rule The World

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