The Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle form guide which is run over three miles on Thursday, March 12, at The Festival, and has attracted an entry of 41 horses. Inglis Drever is going to attempt to be the first horse to win the race for a third time. He won this race in 2005 and 2007 and was out injured in 2006. Inglis Drever was in fine shape when winning the Grade Two totesport.com Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on December 1, 2007.
Johnson has also entered 2005 Grade One Ballymore Properties Novice Hurdle victor No Refuge, who recently returned to the racecourse with a game win over fences after an absence of more than a year. Alan King could return his star chaser My Way De Solzen to the smaller obstacles. The eight-year-old took the Ladbrokes World Hurdle in 2006 and returned to The Festival 12 months later to triumph in the Grade One Irish Independent Arkle Trophy Chase.
The Barbury Castle handler has also engaged Blazing Bailey, who finished third behind Inglis Drever last year, but looked on top form when taking the Steel Plate And Sections Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. Last year's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle winner Wichita Lineman finished eight lengths second to Blazing Bailey on that occasion and the six-year-old could bid for revenge along with stablemate Black Jack Ketchum, who fell when hot favourite in last season's Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
O'Neill's other entry is the classy mare Refinement, who won the Grade One Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa Champion Stayers Hurdle at last season's Punchestown Festival and finished third behind Nicanor and Denman in the 2006 Grade One Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle at The Festival. David Pipe's three entries are Lough Derg, who was an impressive nine-length winner of the Grade One BGC Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December, last year's Listed Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Handicap Hurdle heroine Gaspara and Raslan.
Nicky Henderson, who has twice trained the winner of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, could be represented by Blue Shark, who scored easily in Grade One company on his only start in Britain and The Market Man, who has not run since finishing second to Mighty Man in the "Relkeel" Hurdle at Cheltenham in December, 2005. Racing Demon, second behind No Refuge at The Festival in 2005, could return to hurdles for Henrietta Knight and the trainer, who won the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with Karshi in 1997, has also engaged the exciting Ringaroses, who has only been beaten once in five starts.
Charlie Mann could be represented by Air Force One, who chased home Wichita Lineman at last year's Festival, while Peter Bowen has entered his exciting novice Souffleur, an impressive winner of the Grade One Ballymore Properties Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury in December, and high-class performer Special Envoy. A strong Irish challenge of nine is headed by Dessie Hughes' outstanding hurdler Hardy Eustace, a dual winner of the Grade One Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle, and the Noel Meade-trained Aitmatov, who was a brave winner of the Grade One Ballymore Properties Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on December 2.
Al Eile could step up to three miles following a length victory over Hardy Eustace in the Grade One bewleyshotels.com.
December Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown, while Willie Mullins has entered last season's Grade One Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices' Hurdle victor Ebaziyan and Alexander Taipan.Other potential Irish raiders include Powerstation, who finished second to Black Jack Ketchum in the 2006 Group Two
Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle before filling the same position in last season's Coral Cup, and Tom Hogan's consistent gelding Sonnyanjoe, winner of the Listed Lombard Properties Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in November. Francois Doumen, twice successful in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with Baracouda, has entered last year's fifth Kasbah Bliss and Millenium Royal, who scored in the valuable Betfair "Fixed Brush" Handicap Hurdle at Haydock in November.