An informative renewal of the BGC Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on December 19 is in store, with a potential cast headed by Big Buck’s.
Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old is the highest rated hurdler in training and oozed class on his seasonal return at Newbury last weekend.
Ascot specialist Lough Derg was put in his place on that occasion but connections may hope to finish closer in the race he won two years ago.
Diamond Harry, an effortless winner of a competitive handicap at Haydock off top weight recently, is due to take a step up in class for Nick Williams.
Donald McCain’s Whiteoak, a winner on her first attempt at three miles at Kempton, could also take her chance.
Henry Daly’s Mighty Man, who gave Big Buck’s a fright at Aintree, is a possible but has yet to be seen this season.
The Alan King duo of Karabak and Katchit are entered, Nicky Henderson’s Sentry Duty and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ pair of Ballyfitz and Kayf Aramis are also possibles.
Coral Cup winner Ninetieth Minute heads the Irish challenge along with Tom Mullins’ Oscar Dan Dan.
Fair Along, Viper, Kruguyrova and Sweetheart complete the list of 16.
McCain confirmed Whiteoak as an intended starter.
“It is definitely the plan to go for the Long Walk and that will tell us whether to go for the World Hurdle at the Festival or go back to the David Nicholson Mares’ race,” he said.
“She’s come out of the last race very well, but that was a mares’ only race and didn’t really tell us a lot and that is why we’ve decided to go to Ascot and find out properly.”