The initial list of entries for the 2011 Ladbrokes World Hurdle has been released and there is no surprise to see dual champion Big Bucks heading the list of 46 entries at this stage. The Paul Nicholls horse has been invincible ever since returning to hurdles and he will be looking to win his third consecutive World Hurdle in March, and the bookmakers believe he is a good thing at an odds-on price. Big Bucks will go chasing again next season so this will be his last attempt at the World Hurdle and at this stage it is hard to oppose him based on his form so far this season. He has won both the Long Distance Hurdle and the Long Walk Hurdle at Newbury so far this campaign and has not been off the bridle in either race despite some decent competition. Those two performances were highly impressive and should Big Bucks arrive at Cheltenham fit it could be a question of who can get close to him at Cheltenham.
There are one or two surprise entries for the World Hurdle who may be able to give Big Bucks a run for his money, and perhaps the standout of those is the exciting Mikael D'Haguenet. The Willie Mullins horse has been chasing this season and had been expected to take his chance in the RSA Chase or even the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, however after one or two slip-ups over the big obstacles he has been given an entry for the World Hurdle. He would certainly be an interesting runner as would Punchestowns who is another one who has been over fences this season, the Nicky Henderson horse came a close second to Big Bucks in the 2009 Ladbrokes World Hurdle and could once again take on his rival after receiving a World Hurdle entry. Punchestowns is likely to go to the Gold Cup if he proves his jumping over the next few weeks but one who is likely to take on Big Bucks is Zaynar who is a stable mate of Punchestowns. The grey was a Champion Hurdle runner last season but should enjoy the step up in trip making him a potential big player in the race this season as the latest show in the betting suggests.