Mullins pair aiming to lower Big Buck's colours
The Willie Mullins-trained pair of Mourad and Fiveforthree are set to take on the big two of Big Buck's and Grands Crus in next Thursday's Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Along with the Mullins hopefuls, Festival regular Powerstation, Edward O'Grady's Rigour Back Bob and last year's Albert Bartlett winner Berties Dream are other Irish contenders aiming to lower the colours of Big Buck's.
After winning the race for the second successive year last season, Big Buck's appeared to have a penalty kick to emulate three-times scorer Inglis Drever. But the emergence of David Pipe's Grands Crus, unbeaten in three starts, has sparked the race into life and Paul Nicholls' title holder has now drifted to odds against.
In other Cheltenham news, Robert 'Choc' Thornton has come in for the plum ride on Somersby in next week's Champion Chase at the expense of young rider Hadden Frost.
Thornton rode Somersby to finish runner-up in last year's Irish Independent Arkle Chase. Frost has partnered the horse in three starts this season, but trainer Henrietta Knight pointed to Thornton's "Cheltenham experience" as the main reason for the switch.
Ian Williams has confirmed Weird Al will run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and not the Ryanair.
Meanwhile, Edward Lynam's Duff travels over to Wolverhampton today hoping to land the Lady Wulfruna Stakes. The veteran has a good record on the all-weather tracks across the water and Lynam is expecting a bold show.