61 in for the World Hurdle

Thu 17th Jan 2013, 19:06

photoQuevega - precautionary entry
©Healy Racing Photos
Willie Mullins has quelled suggestions that top-class mare might switch to line up in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, despite her name appearing among the 61 entries for the race.

The four-times winner of the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle has been among the ante-post favourites for the World Hurdle ever since four-times winner Big Buck's was ruled out for the season due to injury.

However, speaking after a successful day at Thurles, Mullins told At The Races that a bid for a fifth win in the mares' race remained his clear preference.

"It's just in case the first day is put back or something," he said. "You never know what might be happening. Transport could let us down or something else could come up.

"I can't see us changing our plan now and when you have a horse like this who you have trained to be right on one day I don't really want to be running her twice in the week."

The absence of Big Buck's means a bumper entry list has been revealed, including last year's third Smad Place and fifth home Oscar Whisky.

The latter is one of seven possibles for trainer Nicky Henderson, among which Riverside Theatre and Roberto Goldback stand out.

Paul Nicholls has six entered including Lexus Chase winner Tidal Bay, while among Donald McCain's trio is Peddlers Cross, who is set to revert to hurdles after a largely disappointing season over fences.

David Pipe's pair of Feltham Chase winners Grands Crus and Dynaste also feature while Walkon, Bensalem and Lovcen join Smad Place to make up four entries from Alan King's yard.

King said: "All options are open at the moment. Smad Place will go for the National Spirit at Fontwell first and I'm not sure about Walkon.

"He will either run in the two-mile-and-five handicap chase at Cheltenham next weekend, or the Cleeve Hurdle - it will probably be the chase.

"Lovcen hates chasing and might go for the Cleeve as it's tough off his handicap mark.

"Bensalem has been off for two years and was due to go for a handicap chase at Haydock this weekend but I doubt it will be on. I'd imagine he'd run in one of the handicap chases at the Festival."

Straight to Cheltenham for Monksland

Leading Ladbrokes World Hurdle fancy Monksland will head to Cheltenham without a prep race.