Last year’s winner Big Buck’s features among 35 entries for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Paul Nicholls pulled off a masterstroke by sending the talented seven-year-old back over the smaller obstacles last season and he has continued in the same vein, registering two comfortable successes so far this campaign.
Interestingly, he is the champion trainer’s sole entry in the Grade One event.
Last season’s runner-up Punchestowns has been given an entry although he is expected to continue a career over fences shortly, while Diamond Harry, who proved no match for Big Buck’s in last month’s Long Walk Hurdle, is set to make his chasing debut at the weekend.
The progressive Lie Forrit holds an entry for Willie Amos, while former Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition is one of 12 Irish-trained possibles.
Howard Johnson won the World Hurdle three times with Inglis Drever and he has entered Tidal Bay this time.
Cousin Vinny, Karabak, Katchit and Sentry Duty are other interesting contenders.
Johnson admits there is a real possibility 2008 Arkle Trophy hero Tidal Bay could switch back to timber having not won over fences since November 2008.
“He might just go for the World Hurdle but we’ll see what happens when he runs at Cheltenham on Saturday week,” said Johnson.
“He could run in the Cleeve Hurdle or we might go for the Letheby & Christopher Chase, we’ll just have a look and see.
“The weather is picking up a bit now so we’ll probably be able to give him a school over hurdles shortly and he might just go for the Cleeve.”