Solwhit is reported to be on target for a return to the track at Leopardstown in the Woodies Christmas Hurdle. The World Hurdle hero from last season has been off track since running second in the Grade Course De Hais D'Auteuil in June but now looks set to make a belated return to the track. The Charles Byrnes horse was one of the stars of the season last year as he completed the Cheltenham/Aintree double in the staying hurdle division.
The injury to Big Buck's left the World Hurdle wide open but in the end it was Solwhit who stormed clear of the field at the Festival to claim a famous win. He quickly followed that up with an equally impressive success at the Grand National meeting to win the Liverpool Hurdle and mark himself out as the star of the division. The Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown is likely to be a nice staring point for the horse as his path back to Cheltenham begins to kick into gear.
Solwhit is the star name on the list of entries for the Woodies Christmas Hurdle but there are one or two other interesting contenders who could be set to head to Leoaprdstown. Chief among those is the unbeaten and highly progressive Annie Power who could take her chance for Willie Mullins. She is quite well fancied in the Champion Hurdle market, but it appars that connections are flirting with the idea of stepping her up to three miles for the first time in her career.
The World Hurdle is already shaping up to be one of the highlights of the Cheltenham Festival in March. A good Christmas return for defending champ, Solwhit, is likely to see his current price of around 6/1 cut considerably ahead of the return of Big Buck's. The four time World Hurdle champ missed the Festival last season through injury but is scheduled to return in the Cleeve Hurdle at the back end of January. There are doubts about whether he will be able to return to his best at 11 years of age, but he is unbeaten since 2008 and remains one of the legends of the sport.
Add to the pot the likes of At Fishers Cross and the progressive More of That and potentially we could be in for an explosive race in March. Solwhit is the defending champion though and his connections will be keen to prove at Christmas that their star is on track for a successful defence of his crown.