Both money and reputations will be on the line at the Cheltenham Festival 2014 when Big Buck’s and Annie Power clash in the World Hurdle

The much awaited and anticipated clash between Champion Big Bucks and the young pretender Annie Power is almost upon us. The mare Annie Power comes to the race unbeaten, but never having been truly tested. Big Buck’s beaten for the first time in years when third on his return in the Cleeve Hurdle will have to be at his best to retain his crown.

Markets have placed the mare as favourite and appear to somewhat overlook Big Buck’s record. Nicholls believes and hopes that Big Bucks is his strongest chance of the meeting and sentiments of many hope so too.

Alongside the two favourites, a rejuvenated At Fishers Cross and talented Celestial Halo make up what is a good field. With Curtis’s win yesterday in the RSA fresh in the mind it would be folly to discount the chances of At Fishers CrossCelestial Halo ran well in the last renewal and has conditions in his favour.

In the Ryanair, Festival winners Al Ferof and Benefficient will fight out the finish, with Alan King’s Medermit having strong place claims.

Two highly regarded talking horses of the meeting Fingal Bay (Pertemps) and Cause Of Causes (Kim Muir) will look to deliver on the whispers surrounding them this afternoon.

Oscar Whisky will finally get the trip that he wants at a Festival when he runs in the JLT Novices, but he will have to fend off his old rival the much touted Taquin De Seuill.

The Byrne Group Plate looks an ultra tough handicap for punters with the mercurial Ballynagour in with chances alongside JP McManus’ Colour Squadron.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Al Ferof (Ryanair 2.40)

With three wins at the course including one at the Festival in 2011 expect this classy grey to put in another bold show today. His victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last season puts him right in the mix alongside his third in the King George. At odds of 9/2 the outstanding form seems to have been overlooked by punters. Al Ferof can be forgiven his last run.

Crockford’s Whipser – Cause Of Causes e/w (Kim Muir 4.40)

There have been strong whispers surrounding this Irish raider, with many saying that he will win whichever handicap he is entered. The masterful Gordon Elliott has teamed up with the talented Nina Carberry to guide this fancy home. Expect a bold show.

Crockford’s World Hurdle Day – Cheltenham Festival 2014 Gambles:

JLT (1.30) – Oscar Whisky e/w and Taquin De Seuill e/w

Pertemps (2.05) – Fingal Bay e/w and Utopie Des Bordes e/w

Ryanair (2.40) –  Al Ferof and Medermit e/w

World Hurdle (3.20) – Big Buck’s, At Fishers Cross e/w and Celestial Halo e/w

Byrne Group Plate (4.00) – Ballynagour e/w and Colour Squadron e/w

Kim Muir (4.40) – Cause Of Causes e/w,  Hunting Party e/w and Saint Are e/w