With Big Buck's sadly out of this year's World Hurdle a record number of entries have been received for the race including six from Paul Nicholls, one of which is Wonderful Charm...
The absence of Big Buck's inevitably casts a shadow over the Ladbrokes World Hurdle this year, but at least everyone now can fancy their chances of winning the race and it was no surprise to see it attract a record number of entries on Thursday.
We have six of the 61 entries - Aaim To Prosper, Celestial Halo, Kauto Stone, Prospect Wells, Tidal Bay, and Wonderful Charm.
Obviously, at this stage, Tidal Bay is our likeliest winner. If he goes for the race, that is.
But the Lexus winner clearly has top-class Gold Cup credentials if he gets his ground. So, as ever, I will let you know here first about our running plans for our entries, as and when any decisions are made in the coming weeks.
I will give you an update on Wonderful Charm now though.
He had very good hurdling form in France, and won on his debut for us in the Persian War at Chepstow in October, his last eligible start in a novice.
So, although he won well there - earning an official mark of 149 into the bargain - it was immediately apparent to Ruby and us that he had some breathing issues, so we wasted no time at all and gave him an op the Monday after. And we have given him plenty of time, with a view to him being a Spring horse.
The difference to the horse since the operation has been remarkable. Physically, he looks so different to the horse that arrived from France, and is working really well, so we have given him an entry in the World Hurdle, and he will get one in the Coral Cup, too.
I am leaning towards the Welsh Champion Hurdle, now a limited handicap, for him at Ffos Las on February 2nd for his next race. But we also have the National Spirit at Fontwell as another option too.
The World Hurdle may be flying a bit too high at this stage of his career.
But let's see what he does on his next start, as we have high hopes for him. And I personally wouldn't want to be offering him at 33-1+ in a Big Buck's-less World Hurdle this year, that's for sure (Ed: his is currently available to back at 36.035/1 on Betfair).