This year’s renewal of the World Hurdle, formerly known as the Stayers’ Hurdle, looks as competitive as ever (3.20pm, Thursday, Cheltenham live on CH4).
Paul Nicholls, who won the race four years running with the now retired Big Buck’s, holds a strong hand once again, with Saphir Du Rheu (5/1) and Zarkandar (5/1) disputing favouritism. The former is the choice of stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, who rode him to victory in the Cleeve Hurdle over course and distance in January. On that occasion, he was driven out to beat Reve De Sivola by a neck, but is 4lb worse off this time and may struggle to confirm the form.
Reve De Sivola (25/1), ridden by Daryl Jacob (pictured), had previously rallied after a mistake at the final flight to beat Zarkandar by a neck in the Long Walk Hurdle, over 3m1f at Ascot at level weights. The BHA’s official handicapper rates Saphir Du Rheu 5lb superior to both Zarkandar and Reve De Sivola but, if the Ascot form is to be believed, Reve De Sivola could be the pick of the trio and looks outstanding value at the odds on offer.
Whisper (12/1) won the Coral Cup at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, but has been restricted to just two starts since. Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old subsequently won the Silver Cross Stayers’ Hurdle at Aintree, but reverts to hurdles after being turned over at odds of 2/5 in a beginners chase on his reappearance at Exeter on New Year’s Day. He is officially rated just 1lb inferior to Saphir Du Rheu, has won on the prevailing good to soft going and is preferred to stable companion Blue Fashion (16/1) by Barry Geraghty, but a 70-day absence must be a worry.
Un Temps Pour Tout (12/1) finished third, beaten a neck and 2½ lengths, behind Saphir Du Rheu and Reve De Sivola in the Cleeve Hurdle and reopposes on 2lb and 6lb worse terms respectively. The six-year-old Robin Des Champs gelding could still be open to improvement after just four starts for David Pipe but, even so, he appears to have work to do to reverse the form.
At Fishers Cross (33/1) finished third, beaten 6½ lengths, in this race last year and, on slower ground, would be easy to fancy had he not been a beaten favourite on three of his last four starts. Unfortunately, the Oscar gelding has a history of back problems which, although being treated, seem to be the cause of his deterioration. If he were to return to his best form, he would have every chance, but that’s probably too much to ask at this stage of his career.
- Frankly, it is difficult to rule out any of the 17 runners with any degree of confidence and, although only eighth of ten, beaten 18½ lengths, last year, Reve De Sivola has nothing to find with the best of these on recent form. It is a mystery why this course and distance winner is such a long price but, mystery or not, our World Hurdle betting tips advice is to back REVE DE SIVOLA each-way at the standout best betting odds of 25/1 with Ladbrokes and that price is unlikely to last.