Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls has announced that his top chaser, Tidal Bay, is likely to revert to hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival with the World Hurdle the likely target. The Graham Wiley owned horse may be 12 years-old now but has been in the form of his life this season and will go to Cheltenham with every chance. Nicholls will be delighted he has found a substitute for World Hurdle legend Big Buck's after he picked up an injury and in Tidal Bay he looks to have a more than able deputy. The horse was good enough to win the Grade 1 Lexus Chase over at Leopardstown at Christmas and given that form he has to be a major contender for the World Hurdle. That day he stormed home late on to beat the likes of Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs in one of the races of the season and that looks to be rock solid form. We know that the horse is a thorough stayer which is to his advantage in a race like the World Hurdle especially with more than a few stamina doubts surrounding a number of the other market leaders in the latest betting.
The plans for Tidal Bay was firmed up after Paul Nicholls saw Silviniaco Conti cement his claims for the Gold Cup in the Denman Chase which ensures that the Ditcheat trainer now has a good chance in both the World Hurdle and the Gold Cup. Tidal Bay will be aimed at the unique double of the World Hurdle and the Grand National this season and few would bet against him running well in both given the form he is currently in as a 12 year-old. He is a horse that has shown plenty of potential throughout his career but since being moved to Ditcheat he seems to have found a new lease of life and is clearly enjoying an Indian Summer. Possible opponents to Tidal Bay in the race could include the likes of Reve De Sivola, who won the Cleeve Hurdle recently, and Oscar Whisky who is a class act but his stamina remains very much in doubt. The race was blown wide open before Christmas when four times winner and Cheltenham legend Big Buck's picked up an injury which left trainers across the country re-jigging their plans. The race has now become 'winnable' for the first time in many years and Tidal Bay has to come into serious consideration despite the fact that his age suggests he will struggle.