The first three in most antepost lists for the World Hurdle line up here in what promises to be a fascinating clash and of them we'll side with the master BIG BUCK'S to get the better of Karabak and Diamond Harry. Paul Nicholls' gelding arrives here unbeaten over hurdles since unseating Sam Thomas in last season's Hennessy and how connections must now be grateful for that fact as their charge went on to land the stayers crown back in March. The six-year-old has 9lbs in hand of his nearest rival on figures and has always looked to have a bit more in the locker, although he shouldn't need it to score here. Ruby Walsh feels the horse is better going left handed and he won with any amount in hand on his seasonal reappearance here under similar conditions and so it'll be a surprise to many if he's beaten. Karabak is narrowly preferred at the likely prices as best of the rest. Alan King's gelding has the beating of Diamond Harry on festival form and his run behind the classy Zaynar over an inadequate trip last time was a satisfactory one. It must be noted the horse did disappoint at Aintree when fancied back in the spring but he'd had a hard race at Cheltenham and if putting a line through that effort he should give Nick Williams' horse something to think about in the battle for second behind the favourite. That said, Diamond Harry could hardly arrive in better form having carried top weight to an impressive handicap success at Haydock last time and if he runs to his official mark of 165 there's no reason why he shouldn't pick up a nice cheque for connections. He's won seven of just eight career starts and there may yet be more improvement to come from the gelding so he's well worthy of respect although his likely price doesn't make too much appeal. Of the remainder admirable Fair Along could go well at a price as he's not far behind the best of these on the pick of his form and goes well for Rhys Flint although it will be some upset if he beats the champion whilst Whiteoak looks best of the two mares having bounced back to form when seemingly suited by a staying trip last time. Kayf Aramis has performed with credit in a couple of handicaps this season but that level of form is miles behind that of the favourite whilst Lough Derg would've been of more interest had this race gone ahead at Ascot as planned. That said you can never write off David Pipe's old boy and he's sure to give his best but that will not be good enough to beat our selection Big Buck's if he's anywhere near his best.
Big Buck's (FR) 2-5fav (11-8) Tracked leading pair, went 2nd going well before 3 out, led on bit approaching last and slight peck, hard held, won at Newbury 3m hdl G2 (1) gs in Nov beating Lough Derg (11-8) by 7l, 7 ran.
Diamond Harry 9-2 (11-12) Tracked leaders and keen, led 3 out, clear approaching 2 out, comfortably, won at Haydock 3m 1f listed hcp hdl (1) sft in Nov beating Burton Port (10-11) by 2 1/2l, 16 ran.
Fair Along (GER) 3-1 (11-4) Tracked leader, led before 9th, made rest, clear 2 out, driven out comfortably, won at Wetherby 3m 1f hdl G2 (1) gd in Oct beating Pettifour (11-8) by 18l, 6 ran.
Karabak (FR) 9-4fav (11-2) Held up towards rear, headway before 4 out, tracked winner 2 out, soon ridden to challenge, weakened after last, 2nd of 8, 6l behind Zaynar (11-4) at Ascot 2m 3f hdl G2 (1) gd in Nov.
Kayf Aramis 12-1 (11-4) Pressed leader, led 8th, strongly pressed when hit 2 out, kept on gamely and held narrow advantage until headed last, not quicken and lost 2nd flat, kept on trying, 3rd of 15, 2 1/2l behind Time For Rupert (11-7) at Cheltenham 3m Handicap Hurdle (0-155) (4yo+) (2) sft.
Lough Derg (FR) 16-1 (11-8) Soon led, ridden approaching 3 out, headed before last, no chance with winner, 2nd of 7, 7l behind Big Buck's (11-8) at Newbury 3m hdl G2 (1) gs in Nov.
Sweetheart 28-1 (10-13) In rear, soon pushed along, some headway from 3 out, never dangerous, 9th of 21, 33l behind Time For Rupert (10-10) at Aintree 3m Listed hcp hdl (1) gd in Apr.
Whiteoak (IRE) 6-4fav (10-12) Held up in rear, smooth headway after 3 out, led after next, driven clear, easier finish, impressive, won at Kempton 3m mrs lst hdl (1) gs in Nov beating Amber Brook (10-12) by 7l, 5 ran.