Boston Bob catapulted back into the World Hurdle reckoning
The Follow Punchestown On Facebook Hurdle may not have the same standing as the Long Walk Hurdle or Cleeve Hurdle in its position as a respected trial for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
However, opinions may change slightly should Boston Bob triumph in the World Hurdle in March, with Coral currently 12/1 about this eventuality.
Solwhit won the World Hurdle last year and he took second behind Bog Warrior in the 2m4f Punchestown contest en route to Cheltenham.
Boston Bob ran out an easy 10-length winner this year, in his first race back over hurdles, after what has to be described as a failed stint chasing.
Falls on his last two chase starts obviously convinced Willie Mullins that a return to hurdles was the best move and it is worth remembering that Boston Bob finished second in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over 3m at the Festival two years ago.
There is the possibility that the hurdles route was only chosen to give the horse some confidence back and that a chasing return is still the ultimate aim.
But, given the lack of certainty around any of the leading protagonists in the World Hurdle betting, this Cheltenham contest would seem to make the most sense.
Big Buck’s leads the betting at 9/4, but despite being unbeaten in all 18 hurdles starts, he has not run in the whole of 2013 because of injury.
There is no guarantee that he will return as the same horse.
At Fishers Cross was widely determined to be the main challenger, but two defeats since stepping out of novice company have caused his price to drift to 14/1.
Instead, it is More Of That that is the second favourite at 4/1, even though he has only raced four times in his career, has never raced beyond 2m4f and was having his first run out of handicap company when winning the Relkeel Hurdle last time.