Cheltenham World Hurdle Attracts Record Entry

With 61 horses entered for the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the ante-post betting market is wide open.

Tidal Bay image

The recent news that Big Buck’s will not be attempting to win a record fifth World Hurdle after sustaining an injury puts such a different complection on the 2013 renewal of the race with no fewer than 61 horses being entered for the Grade 1 contest on March 14th, almost double the number declared at the same entry stage last year. With the two market leaders, Quevega and Oscar Whisky, far from certain to be in the final line-up the race sponsored by Ladbrokes becomes a relative minefield for ante-post punters.

Due to the open nature of the race the leading stables of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are responsible for multiple entries, the former having six and the latter seven, but Irish trainer Willie Mullins outstrips them both on that front with a staggering ten possible runners. Surprisingly, three of the first six home in Kempton’s King George V1 Chase – Grands Crus, Champion Court and Riverside Theatre are all possibles along with RSA Chase favourite Dynaste and 2010 Ascot Gold Cup winner Rite of Passage.

Two other leading chasers who have entries are Lexus Chase winner Tidal Bay and Kauto Stone, although the former is a possible for the Betfred Gold Cup for which the 12 year-old is a best price 20-1 with sportingbet, but Nicholls is keeping his options open, saying: ” You could argue Tidal Bay, on his Wetherby run and the way he’s improved since, would have an enormous chance if he ran. He wouldn’t want the ground quick, of course. There are all sorts of imponderables but on current form the best is Tidal Bay, but a lot can happen over the next couple of months. He could go in the Cleeve Hurdle next week, he could run in the Argento or go to Ireland again. I have to see what the weather does and make a plan.”

Tidal Bay is currently a top price 8-1 for the World Hurdle, with Quevega and Oscar Whisky heading a wide-open ante-post market at odds ranging fron 4-1 to 7-1.