Thursday’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle has been billed as a huge battle between Willie Mullins’ super-mare Annie Power and the previously all-conquering Big Buck’s.
But what of the other contenders? Of course, there are many more intriguing sub-plots ready to play out at Prestbury Park and we’ve taken the trouble to provide you with this essential list of trends so that you’re armed with all of the facts ahead of the 3m stamina test.
Check out this ammo:
· Only two horses in the history of the race have regained their World Hurdle crowns. Crimson Embers was the first to do so after initially tasting success in 1982 before returning four years later to claim a second victory at the ripe age of 11. Will four-time winner Big Buck’s repeat that feat?
· If you love historical clues then look no further than this race. The last time a horse won the World Hurdle without finishing in the top two of the previous year’s running was in 1981. That bodes well for 2013 runner-up and Long Distance Hurdle winner, Celestial Halo.
· No time for long-shots. Each of the past 13 winners featured in the top four of the betting which only further enhances the claims of the likes of Big Buck’s, Annie Power, At Fishers Cross and More of That.
· The Long Walk Hurdle winner has gone on to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle in 6 of the last 12 years. Reve De Sivola took the Long Walk for the second successive year last December and will bid to improve upon 2013’s fourth-place in this race.
· 8 of the last 11 winners were victorious on their previous start. Does that mean we can write off Big Buck’s? Paul Nicholls’ star visibly tired up the famous Cheltenham hill when third in the Cleeve Hurdle but should strip fitter here. Both Annie Power and More of That are unbeaten but tackle 3m for the first time.
· 6 of the last 12 favourites have won the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. Another positive for Annie Power who has been a fraction ahead of Big Buck’s in the betting since Willie Mullins announced her Festival target.
· One concern for favourite backers could be the fact that 10 of the previous 12 victors had landed a graded race over 3m. Celestial Halo, is this your time to shine on the biggest stage?
· The previous 12 winners all finished either first or second on all of their previous hurdling outings in the season. Annie Power and Zarkandar both fit the bill but it’s hard to see the latter reversing the form with his rival.
Our pick: Annie Power
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