MELISSA JONES SAYS: Watch out for At Fishers Cross

ON WAY TO VICTORY: Eventual winner O'Faolains Boy (centre left) ridden by Barry Geraghty competes with Smad Place ridden by Robert Thornton during the RSA Chase during Champion Day at Cheltenham yesterday

ON WAY TO VICTORY: Eventual winner O'Faolains Boy (centre left) ridden by Barry Geraghty competes with Smad Place ridden by Robert Thornton during the RSA Chase during Champion Day at Cheltenham yesterday

First published in Sport

WALES’ AT Fishers Cross is taken to spoil the party for Ireland as their rampant raid is launched on today’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Hot favourite Annie Power, record six time Mares Hurdle winner Quevega and Rule The World are just three from across the Irish Sea hoping to wrest the prize from these shores.

In defence we have Argus ante-post pick and four time consecutive winner of this race Big Bucks and More Of That, in a race that is hot on the heels of the Champion Hurdle in a claim for race of the meeting.

While Big Bucks has long been the selection, I’m a little put off by how hot this race has turned out to be and he tackles it when he’s probably past his peak.

His run last time was a shade disappointing and we’ve seen this week how it could be time for the old guard to rest their hooves- point proven by Hurricane Fly’s defeat on Tuesday.

Big Bucks’ last World Hurdle victory ironically celebrated a defeat of the Irish mare Voler La Vedette and she is not in the same league as compatriots Annie Power or indeed Quevega.

Now 11, the Paul Nicholls inmate should have every chance coming up the hill, so hold onto your ante-post betting slip, but double up by placing your faith in At Fshers Cross.

Trainer Rebecca Curtis is adamant this one wants better ground, in fact she politely interrupted a Cheltenham preview at Chepstow Racecourse recently to tell her fellow panellists so.

McCoy has jumped ship from the impressive More of That to take the ride and the McManus owned gelding cannot get enough of the Cheltenham hill.

He’s reportedly bloomed in recent weeks and is taken to outstay Annie Power, with Big Bucks and Quevega close up.

Dynaste (2.40) takes his chance in a hot looking Ryanair instead of the Gold Cup and that’s a wise choice in my book.

Electric on good ground at Aintree last spring, he’s been freshened up since a dismal King George effort after running Cue Card to four and a half lengths in the Betfair.

With ability in spades, he should be able to reverse form with Benefficient who was aided by a first time hood when they met in last year’s Jewson.

Hunt Ball could be the value to make the frame.

Punters rolling on from yesterday’s action could do worse than back Oscar Whisky in the first.

Welsh owned and English trained, he’s a stalwart around here and is bound to run a brave race.

Of the outsiders, don’t rule out Uxizandre, who recovered remarkably from a bad mistake on chase debut and may have needed the run last time, as Alan King’s horses made their comebacks after a bug.

On The Bridge (2.05), left with too much to do last time at the course, can be backed to right that wrong under the same jockey.

Fingal Bay has a favourite’s chance, but watch for Nick Schofield weaving into contention late on.

SELECTIONS: Cheltenham 1.30 Oscar Whisky, 2.05 On The Bridge (e/w), 2.40 Dynaste, 3.20 At Fishers Cross, 4.00 Third Intention, 4.40 Cause of Causes

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