Trainer Alan King is optimistic his Long Walk Hurdle runner Smad Place can take full advantage of the enforced absence of Big Buck's at Ascot.
The five-year-old disappointed behind Tidal Bay in the John Smith's Hurdle at Wetherby on his reappearance seven weeks ago, but King is expecting a much better show this time.
"It is very sad that Big Buck's is out for the season, but the Long Walk Hurdle now has a real open look, and we have to fancy our chances with Smad Place," the Barbury Castle handler told www.alankingracing.co.uk.
"He disappointed us at Wetherby, but we were not happy with him when he got back and he subsequently missed the Hennessy meeting at Newbury. We have tweaked a few things at home and Smad Place was much more like his old self when we galloped him last Saturday so, hopefully, he can get back on track."
Jockey Robert Thornton is in similarly confident mood, telling At The Races: "We are very hopeful. He ran up at Wetherby and was slightly disappointing, but he's had a few checks and a full MOT just to iron out a few things. He seems in cracking form and is coming to himself so we are quietly confident.
"He's run some cracking races behind Big Buck's. It's got to be tempting with Big Buck's out for the rest of the season. You don't like to see that, but hopefully we can make the best of it."
With Big Buck's on the sidelines and Five Dream also out of the contest due to an infected foot, champion trainer Paul Nicholls relies on Prospect Wells. He has shown smart form at two miles for the last couple of seasons and Nicholls feels he could be even more effective over a longer distance.
"He's in no man's land in the handicap and I'm convinced he wants a trip. I've just got a feeling over three miles he's going to be really effective," he told www.betfair.com.
Nicky Henderson will be happy if his two runners Cucumber Run and Master Of The Hall could pick up some prize money, saying: "I put them in there thinking we would be running for place money with Big Buck's in there and even though he is out, I probably still am thinking like that.
"We have nowhere else to go with them and now they're entered they might as well run. Master Of The Hall is coming back to hurdles as there is nowhere for him to go over fences. I always thought Cucumber Run wanted better ground but he ran very well at Newbury. The handicapper put him up for that and hopefully his rating puts him somewhere in the firing line."
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