Racing in brief: Big Buck's has World at his feet
BIG BUCK'S, last year's winner, features among 35 entries for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Paul Nicholls pulled off a masterstroke by sending the talented seven-year-old back over the smaller obstacles last season and he has continued in the same vein, registering two comfortable successes so far this campaign. He is the champion trainer's sole entry in the race.
Last season's runner-up Punchestowns has been given an entry although he is expected to continue a career over fences shortly, while Diamond Harry, who proved no match for Big Buck's in last month's Long Walk Hurdle, is set to make his chasing debut at the weekend.
The progressive Lie Forrit holds an entry for Willie Amos, while former Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition is one of 12 Irish-trained possibles.
Howard Johnson won the World Hurdle three times with Inglis Drever and he has entered Tidal Bay. Cousin Vinny, Karabak, Katchit and Sentry Duty are other interesting contenders.
Murphy thrilled to finally hit 1000 mark
Timmy Murphy registered a personal milestone with his 1000th British National Hunt success as Wizard of Edge worked his magic in the Shoreditch Handicap Chase at Taunton.
Murphy has been marooned on 998 since Cheltenham on New Year's Day but his victory on Paul Nicholls' Ghizao in division one of the Thurlbear Novices' Hurdle brought him one short of the four-figure total.
The 35-year-old only had to wait another two hours before Ron Hodges' Wizard Of Edge delighted those who backed him down to 9/2 co-favouritism from his opening show of 8/1 in the marathon chase.
Murphy said: "It is nice to get that in the bag as I thought I was going backwards at one stage."
Grade One target for Aranleigh
Aranleigh is to sidestep the MCR Chase at Leopardstown tomorrow and wait for the Dr PJ Moriarty Chase there next month.
Trainer Tony Mullins landed the latter prize in 2003 with Barrow Drive and is hoping Aranleigh can book his ticket for the RSA Chase to the Cheltenham Festival.
Following a long lay-off, the JP McManus-owned eight-year-old has won both his starts this season and is reported to be in good shape.
"At the moment we intend to go for the Grade One on February 7 instead to see if we have an RSA horse," said the handler.
"He's been working well and did his latest piece of work this morning and that went well.
"His pedigree suggested two miles might be his best trip, but the jockeys who have ridden him say he's better at two and a half miles plus. For the moment we don't know if will get three miles one or not which will be the deciding factor with the RSA."