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Big Buck's dominates 'world' list

Big Buck's is the standout name among 46 entries for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on March 17.

Paul Nicholls' champion is unbeaten since reverting to hurdles and has barely come off the bridle this season.

He could be joined by stablemates Celestial Halo, a former Champion Hurdle runner-up, and the improving Organisateur.

An interesting entry from the Nicky Henderson yard is Punchestowns, currently campaigning over fences, but a former runner-up in the race.

Henderson has sprung another surprise by entering Oscar Whisky, an impressive winner over two and a half miles, who was thought to be on the Champion Hurdle trail.

Zaynar and Spirit River are other Seven Barrows possibles.

Willie Mullins is another trainer with multiple entries and they include Mourad, Mikael D'Haguenet, Fiveforthree and Quevega.

Alan King could run Bensalem, Walkon and Karabak, while Nigel Twiston-Davies has given Khyber Kim the option and David Pipe's exciting Grand Crus is a possible.

Solwhit could be a fascinating runner for Charles Byrnes and Luska Lad has been entered by John Hanlon, while Robin Dickin is planning on running Restless Harry.

"Restless Harry runs in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday week and I am hopeful that he can run a big race. He is tremendously well in himself and we always said that we would remain over hurdles this season because of his limited mileage," said Dickin.

"There are probably four or five horses that are quite evenly matched behind Big Buck's but you should never be scared of taking on one horse -- who would have thought that Kauto Star would have got beaten on Saturday?

"It's not his fault that he is competing in the top staying hurdles, but when you run in those kind of races, then you are bound to take on champions like Big Buck's."

Ladbrokes World Hurdle -- sponsors' bet: 4/7 Big Buck's, 8/1 Punchestowns, 10/1 Grands Crus, Oscar Whisky, Quevega, 12/1 Mourad, Solwhit, Zaynar, 14/1 Karabak 16/1 Bensalem, Mikael d'Haguenet, 20/1 bar.

Irish Independent