Eight runners were declared for the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday after Big Buck's was the only defection at the 48-hour final declaration stage.
A wide-open race for the three-mile-one-furlong Grade One is on the cards after the brilliant stayer, winner of this race for the last three years, was ruled out through injury.
Paul Nicholls, the trainer of Big Buck's, could still take the honours with either Prospect Wells or Five Dream, while Nick Williams saddles Reve De Sivola, who stuck on well in the closing stages to finish second behind Big Buck's in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on his first run for almost a year.
Trustan Times is an interesting contender after defying top weight of 11st 12lb in the "Fixed Brush" Handicap Hurdle at Haydock for North Yorkshire trainer Tim Easterby.
Alan King is represented by Smad Place while Nicky Henderson is double-handed with Master Of The Hall and Cucumber Run. The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Kayf Aramis completes the field.
Conditions at Ascot are certain to be testing for the two-day fixture culminating in Saturday's card featuring the Long Walk Hurdle and The Ladbroke.
The course is currently raceable but Stickels has not ruled out the possibility of calling a precautionary inspection at some stage.
"We've had 28 millimetres of rain and the going is heavy, soft in places," clerk of the course Chris Stickels told At The Races.
"At the moment we are OK and coping with what we've got. At the moment we are quite happy and will monitor it as the day goes on. Potentially we could get seven up to nine millimetres maybe.
"If we do get that we may have to call a precautionary inspection, but at the moment it's taking it.
31 October 2014Day to remember for Ellison
Johnson remains under observation
Conti chasing second Charlie Hall
Terror scares Newmarket rivals
Filleule faces Champion test
Terror scares off Newmarket rivals
Sgt far from Reckless at Uttoxeter
Little King wears Down Royal crown
Nicholls goes on Charm offensive
Fishers angling for Wetherby prize
Lavelle star Bec in business
Weld out to break new ground
Osborne ready to 'roll the dice'
Dank bids to sign off on a high
Turf glory in sight for Telescope
Red Ed upbeat about Cadeaux
Aktabantay out of Breeders' Cup
Tearless secures Good Friday ticket
Overnight stay for Johnson
Crawford banks on Izzini progress
Toast could make Spencer think
Road charts route to Royal riches
Grece excels at Saint-Cloud
Hawk given Greatwood option
Hannon: Early speed key for Osaila
30 October 2014Tearless takes Lingfield honours
Johnson taken to hospital
Royal summons for Apache
Bowe takes aim at WKD bullseye
Hootenanny 'smoking' for BC mission
Avenue roads lead to Newmarket
Shu to be kept busy
Scu sweet on Sensation Ascot raid
Murtagh succumbs to Cup charms
Dandino to stay in Australia
Glance denied Mackinnon defence
Bailey ace rules Supreme at Taunton
O'Brien hit by Magician blow
Diablo in big-race picture
Buckley raises Toast to Osborne
Pastille seeking four-timer
Conti all set for Charlie Hall
Barnes out to storm Saint-Cloud
Williams issues Buywise warning
Lynam reveals Slade stalls fears
29 October 2014Lame Magician out of Breeders' Cup
Diablo in big-race picture
Mullins enters strong Hennessy team
Damaged hock behind Estid reverse
Eckhart team rocked by injury blow
Hunt Ball makes Power play
Morgiana a T bone of contention
Kirby ponders Buttons French raid
Glance camp turn to Williams
Wohler trusts 'professional' Moore
Red alert to Cup challenge
Head targets more Mile glory
Mile hope Toronado in 'great form'
Telescope camp banking on Moore
Twiston-Davies link excites Moore
Flying third to Bob on hurdling bow
Harden to test top staying waters
Godolphin take share in Belardo
Mullins has big guns at Down Royal
Annacotty set for Kempton return
Powell and Bradley cleared
28 October 2014Fingal camp on weather watch
More injury woe for Popham
Dickin unveils Thomas gameplan
Power stalls in Flemington spin
Toast drawn nine in BC Classic
My Ambivalent passed fit by vets
Harry out to bring House down
Three and easy for ton-up Hanagan
Wood carves out Galway verdict
More Of That in Wetherby frame
Big guns confirmed for Charlie Hall
Byron pencilled in for Far East
Newbury reverts to original title
Magician to stay in the US