Irish raiders prepare for record assault on World Hurdle prize
A day after the most select Irish-based entry in years was unveiled for a Champion Hurdle that looks set to be dominated by the raiders, a record number of cross-channel contenders were put forward for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
Of the 48 names to go forward for the Cheltenham Festival's three-mile Grade One, 18 hail from these shores, most of which can be backed at odds of 10/1 or more.
Willie Mullins' six include the 2014 runner-up Annie Power, Vroum Vroum Mag and Briar Hill, and, intriguingly, the Champion Hurdle contender, Nichols Canyon.
Prince Of Scars is one of four that Gordon Elliott could call on, while Windsor Park, yesterday's Galmoy Hurdle winner Alpha Des Obeaux and Martello Tower are other Irish contenders.
Alpha Des Obeaux is now an 8/1 shot with Coral for the race and his trainer Mouse Morris indicated Prestbury Park could be his next port of call.
Morris said: "In fairness to him he has been beaten by good horses and at least he wasn't second today (had three seconds in Grade One races over Christmas), so I'm very happy!
"I'll discuss things with Gigginstown and while he hasn't a whole lot of racing done, I imagine he'll go straight to Cheltenham now."
Morris believes his charge is capable of more on a sounder surface, he added: "He showed at Liverpool (last April) that he is much better on good ground."
Bryan Cooper, who rode the 13/8 favourite at Gowran yesterday, added: "What I liked today was that he took me where I wanted to be. There were plenty of positives to take out of that."
Meanwhile, Annie Power and Vroum Vroum Mag are also among six Mullins horses put forward for the OLBG Mares' Hurdle.
A faller when clear at the last flight last year, Annie Power is the 4/5 market leader to atone this time in the recently promoted Grade One that the champion trainer has farmed each of the past seven years.
Un De Sceaux, meanwhile, will look to leave his crashing recent fall at Leopardstown behind when he crosses swords with former champion chaser Sire De Grugy at Ascot tomorrow.
Mullins' relentless 2015 Arkle Trophy hero will face four rivals in total under Ruby Walsh in the Grade One Sodexo Clarence House Chase.