World Hurdle will be no cruise as Zaynar is a confirmed runner

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Big Buck’s is no longer the banker of the Cheltenham Festival and as the two-time winner of the World Hurdle continues to drift, there’s support for his two main rivals.

For most of the year Big Buck’s was trading at 8/11 to win his third World Hurdle, but the emergence of Grands Crus in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January has seen Big Buck’s drift out to 11/8.

Winners of the Cleeve Hurdle have gone on to win three of the last six World Hurdle runnings at the Cheltenham Festival leaving Grands Crus a tempting price at 2/1 to win, but trainer David Pipe believes it’s more than a two-horse race.

Connections of Zaynar confirmed the six-year-old will run in the World Hurdle instead of the Champion Hurdle, and Barry Geraghty’s mount offers punters another tempting option at 20/1 considering the horse’s Cheltenham form reads 1-1-3-4.

Geraghty and trainer Nicky Henderson believe the stamina test will bring out the best in the six-year-old and connections believe that the horses freshness – he hasn’t featured since finishing third behind Karabak at Cheltenham in Decemeber – will work in his favour.

Mourad is another horse to watch at a big price (10/1), but the Irish challenger will have to defy the stat that reads no Irish winners of the World Hurdle in fifteen years.

Mourad finished third behind Zaynar in the 2009 Triumph Hurdle but in the two years since, the Williw Mullins-trained six-year-old has strengthened and his gradual increases in trip have seen him become a solid stayer.

Stamina is something World Hurdler winners need in abundance for the three mile trip around Cheltenham Racecourse, and Mourad, with two wins in his last two starts, certainly offers punters that.

A £25 stake on Zaynar winning the World Hurdle would return £525. New customers can sign up here for a free Cheltenham bet worth £25.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.