TOP racing tipster Kevan Minter, known as The Colonel, gives Mercury readers his top tips for the week ahead. Kevan, who lives in Stamford, is trackside most days, is regularly seen on TV and runs his own website www.betwiththe colonel.co.uk
THE unbeatable Big Buck’s features among 34 entries for this year’s £260,000 Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle as he bids to capture the three-mile championship contest for a record fourth consecutive time at The Cheltenham Festival.
The Stewart family’s phenomenal hurdler is unbeaten in 14 starts since contesting the Hennessy Gold Cup in 2008. And he looked as good as ever, sauntering to a comprehensive eight-length success on his latest start in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on December 17.
His trainer Paul Nicholls is considering letting Big Buck’s take his chance in the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle over three miles on Festival Trials Day tomorrow in preparation for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
If the nine-year-old were to capture both races, he would equal the record for consecutive wins over jumps set by three-time Champion Hurdle winner Sir Ken, who recorded 16 straight wins in the 1950s.
Big Buck’s is rated a 4/7 chance for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with the race sponsor.
Oscar Whisky is also entered in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, as the 4/1 second favourite. The Nicky Henderson-trained seven year old has yet to race over three miles but boasts some excellent form over shorter distances.
Somersby, so often the nearly horse in big races finally got his Grade 1, beating Finian’s Rainbow in a driving finish from Dominc Elsworth to take the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot on Saturday. I did think the cheekpieces helped on Saturday but he did travel like a dream and I am sure Somersby will run well at Cheltenham.
Finian’s Rainbow ran a brave race at Ascot behind Somersby and will go very close to upsetting Sizing Europe (2-1 favourite) at Cheltenham in the Champion Chase. He is around 7-1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
One for the note-pad is Kilmacowen, third in a modest novice hurdle at Towcester on Sunday. The six year old travelled well for most of the three mile race and was not knocked about once his chance had gone.
Big Buck’s is bang on target for the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday bidding for his 15th consecutive win. He is in great order and looks a banker bet at odds of 1-3.
Champion Hurdle winner Hurricane Fly, who has been off the track since winning at Punchestown in May, is my weekend nap to take the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Sadler’s Risk, a 17-length winner at Kempton on his racecourse debut, runs at Cheltenham again this Saturday. The race on Saturday looks harder but I still make him a good thing to take this race.
Visit www.betwiththecolonel.co.uk for the Colonel’s tips.