Whisky Camp Almost Certain To Take On Big Buck’s

It now looks almost certain that after much weighing up of the options the high-class Oscar Whisky will indeed take on the mighty Big Buck’s in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes World Hurdle on March 15 and could even head for the three-mile hurdling championship without a prior outing, writes Elliot Slater.

Last year’s Stan James Champion Hurdle third remains a horse of significant ability at the minimum trip, but after his intended run in the Welsh Champion Hurdle fell by the wayside as victim of the wintry weather trainer Nicky Henderson has now taken the decision that he will ask his charge to step up from the two-and-a-half-miles at which he has proved so potent over the last 12 months, to three-miles, to try and rest the staying hurdles crown from the head of the outstanding Big Buck’s, the horse bidding for an unprecedented fourth successive victory in the feature event. The latest ante-post Cheltenham odds show he has every chance of doing so.

Henderson could give his star an outing in one of the jumpers bumpers, (the two-mile National Hunt Flat races run on the all-weather tracks to enable horses whose opportunities to race over jumps have been lost due to the weather a chance to get a little match practice in ahead of big festival meetings), but the Seven Barrows handler assures punters that he would not be worried about sending his charge straight to Cheltenham as he is not a difficult horse to get fit on the home gallops.

Currently rated the main danger to the champion, Oscar Whisky is a top priced 5/1 second-favourite for the World Hurdle behind the Paul Nicholls-trained Big Bucks who can still be backed in places at 4/7. Willie Mullins’ Thousand Stars, winner of the French Champion Hurdle last season over three-and-a-quarter miles after finding Henderson’s horse just a neck too good for him in the Grade 1 John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle last April, is next in the betting at odds ranging from as short as 7/1 out to a top offer of 10/1.