Tidal facing tough test

DENIS O’Regan is under no illusions as to the task facing Tidal Bay in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The 2008 Arkle winner reverted to timber in fine style in January when winning the Cleeve Hurdle at Prestbury Park.

Trained by Howard Johnson, who masterminded the career of great stayer Inglis Drever, Tidal Bay is one of only a handful of credible opponents to reigning champion Big Buck’s.

“It’s a tough race and it’s a tough meeting but I’m looking forward to it,” said O’Regan, who missed out through suspension in the Cleeve with Brian Hughes stepping in.

“It was a great decision by Howard and Graham (Wylie, owner), it was a super decision (to put him back over hurdles). It’s great to get such a good horse back on track.

“I know I missed him but I was delighted he won and hopefully he’s going to the Festival with a chance.

“The World Hurdle is going to be a very hard race to win but if you’re not in, you can’t win.

“He looks an amazing horse, Big Buck’s. I was really impressed with him at Newbury, he might not have looked that impressive but I thought it was a great performance on very heavy ground.

“He’s a very hard horse to beat and when he hits the hill he’s fairly flying.

“It’s great to be involved and I’m delighted to be going, hopefully he gets there in one piece,” he told At The Races.

Meanwhile Colm Murphy hopes to avoid a jockey headache over Big Zeb in the Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The availability of first-choice Barry Geraghty could rest on whether Petit Robin heads to the race — or the Ryanair Chase.

“Big Zeb is fine and fingers crossed he’ll head over to Cheltenham with a good chance,” Murphy said.

“Barry came down and gave him a school in the week and we’ll just keep him ticking over between now and Cheltenham and we’ll see what happens.

“I’m still waiting for confirmation that Barry will be available to ride at Cheltenham but I haven’t heard he won’t be able to yet.

“I suppose if Nicky Henderson runs his horse he’ll have to ride that, but we’ll see.

“I’m not even thinking about what we’ll do if he can’t ride and we’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.”

Murphy is also pleased with the progress Voler La Vedette who will line up in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle.

“Voler La Vedette is in good nick and worked very well earlier in the week,” Murphy continued.

“I suppose you’d have to say on last year’s performance Quevega is the one to beat, but we’re very happy with our mare and she’ll probably have one more good piece of work on Wednesday and that should leave her right.

- Yesterday was a busy day on the ante-post front with Long Run now 3/1 joint-favourite for the RSA Chase having been 4/1 at the start of play.

Earlier in the week Paul Nicholls’ Sanctuaire was trimmed up for the Fred Winter. French-bred horses have a good record in the race, he has a nice racing weight and is now 8/1 joint-favourite (from 10s) with us.

There has been money for Trust Fund in the Foxhunters’ Chase. He won three big hunter chases last year, including one at Aintree, and then went on to win at Cheltenham in April.

He’s now 12 and some may argue a little exposed but he’s 8s from 10s after some good money.

Punjabi was left unchanged after winning at Kempton. He’s one we’re trying to keep on the right side of anyway as he isn’t a great result in our ante-post book. Until it is confirmed that Barry Geraghty has chosen to ride him ahead of Zaynar I can’t see him shortening up further.

There was a shake-up in the Triumph Hurdle market with Mille Chief being ruled out and we are 10s from 12s about Advisor who was given a very positive mention by Paul Nicholls at his recent media day.

Alaivan is our new favourite at 4/1 and he’s been very solid along with Carlito Brigante but Secant Star has been friendless in the market of late. We were 6s but he’s now a 7/1 chance. Soldatino was put up by Pricewise and he’s 9/1 from 16s at the start of the week.

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