Hurricane Fly may have upset Nicky Henderson’s plans of three successive Champion Hurdle successes at Cheltenham last year, but the trainer certainly has plenty of ammunition in his yard to reclaim the leading 2m crown.
There are five or six horses in the Henderson camp who could arguably run creditably in the Champion Hurdle in the hope of following the recent victories achieved by Punjabi and Binocular.
However, Henderson has outlined his early plans in relation to his hurdlers at Cheltenham and indicated that he will only run three horses in the Champion Hurdle.
These are Binocular, Grandouet and Spirit Son, meaning that Oscar Whisky, who finished third in the Champion Hurdle last year, will not be given the opportunity to seek revenge on Hurricane Fly.
Instead, with no race over 2m4f suitable for Oscar Whisky at Cheltenham, it seems almost certain that he will be stepped up in trip to become the leading challenger to Big Buck’s in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
It seems the lesser of two evils for the horse, who arguably does not have the speed to win such a race as the Champion Hurdle over 2m, but potentially is just a class short of preventing Big Buck’s winning a 15th successive hurdle race and a fourth consecutive World Hurdle.
Henderson said: “I can’t see how he is going to win the Champion Hurdle. It is well worth Oscar Whisky taking on Big Buck’s as there is a lot of prize money on offer and second in the World Hurdle would be better than third or fourth in a Champion Hurdle.
“A lot of people say he won’t stay three miles. I would be surprised if he didn’t.”
Based on Henderson’s comments, Big Buck’s looks a banker at 4/7 in the Cheltenham odds to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, with Oscar Whisky the next best in the betting at 4/1.