Oscar Whisky and Reve De Sivola head 18 confirmations for the £275,000 Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle (3.20pm), one of two feature races on St Patrick’s Thursday, March 14, the third day of The Festival.
The pair fought out a thrilling finish to the Grade Two Rewards4Racing Cleeve Hurdle over the same course and distance at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, January 26, with Reve de Sivola prevailing by a neck. However, race sponsor Ladbrokes have Oscar Whisky at the top of their market at 3/1, with Reve De Sivola rated a 7/2 chance.
Star mare Quevega is one of seven Irish-trained horses going forward but her trainer Willie Mullins insists she will instead bid for a fifth consecutive success in the Grade Two OLBG Mares’ Hurdle on Champion Day, Tuesday, March 12. Mullins has four other entries headlined by dual Grade One scorer Zaidpour and 2008 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle hero Fiveforthree, who has been absent for 728 days.
The potential Irish raiders also feature Solwhit, a six-time Grade One winner, who has returned in good form this season after almost two years out of action with a series of problems. Charles Byrnes’ nine-year-old made an encouraging comeback behind Tony Martin’s Bog Warrior at Punchestown in December before an easy four-length success over So Young in the Grade Three Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas in January.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has two potential runners in Celestial Halo and unexposed French import Wonderful Charm, who has not been seen since capturing the Grade Two Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow in October, while Alan King is likely to saddle last year’s third Smad Place.
Donald McCain has 2011 Stan James Champion Hurdle runner-up Peddlers Cross going forward, while Jonjo O’Neill will be hoping Get Me Out Of Here has a change of luck after three consecutive second places at The Festival.