One of the biggest races on Cheltenham Festival Trials Day is always the Cleeve Hurdle and this weekends race looks like being another cracker. The World Hurdle betting for the Festival was thrown wide open last month when hot favourite Big Buck's picked up an injury ensuring that the Cleeve Hurdle takes on even more importance. The World Hurdle at the Festival has suddenly become a winnable race and a number of trainers are hoping their horses can fill the considerable gap left by the great Big Buck's. Chief among those contenders is Oscar whisky who is going to be tested over three miles again this weekend in the Cleeve Hurdle. The Nicky Henderson horse is a class act over 2m4f but doubts do remain over his stamina over the extended trip of the World Hurdle and indeed the Cleeve. Henderson was convinced Oscar Whisky would get three miles in the World Hurdle last season but the horse tired up the hill to finish a fading fifth. The Cleeve Hurdle could well confirm those stamina worries but taking into account the injury to big Buck's it is clearly worth trying the horse at three miles one more time.
The Cleeve Hurdle has proven to be a key trial for the World Hurdle in recent years so any horse that runs well on Saturday could be right in the mix for the Festival. Outside of Oscar Whisky there are one or two other interesting runners to take note of including Kauto Stone. The Paul Nicholls horse has been better known as a chaser but as the Ditcheat team try to find a replacement for Big Buck's it appears he could be given a spin over hurdles this weekend. One thing we do know is that Kauto Stone should get the trip but he has proven hugely inconsistent so far during his short career and it is anyone's guess as to how he will run at Cheltenham this weekend. One other contender likely to run in the Cleeve Hurdle is Reve De Sivola who seems to have thrived since returning to hurdles for trainer Nick Williams. Reve De Sivola won the Long Walk Hurdle last time out at Ascot in the absence of Big Buck's on testing ground and most would expect the eight-year-old to run another big race at Cheltenham this weekend. Trials Day at Cheltenham is one of the best days of racing of the season and Cleeve Hurdle adds another fascinating angle to the day with plenty of questions likely to be answered ahead of the Festival.