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."
3 August 2015Pearl shines at Nottingham
Bright new Dawn at Naas
Casey hoping for swift resumption
Undrafted set to swerve Haydock
'Awesome' Acapulco primed for York
Tropics set for Breeders' Cup trip
Winters ponders next Rebel move
Sails set for Newbury
Hot aiming to burn off rivals
No return date set for Spring
Ground key to Belardo targets
No hurry for Pharoah target
Phenomenal Pharoah does it again
Longford edges Galway thriller
Impact too strong at Chester
Fitz foiled on comeback
Baraweez in Galway repeat
McCullagh 'on the mend'
Amazing summer continues for Maria
Intilaaq camp on weather watch
Basem to step up in grade
Mini-break good for Horn - Gosden
Hobbs considered for Newbury trial
2 August 2015Dream week continues for Martin
Panama has American dream
Cyclone could stick to hurdling
Now Or Never excites O'Callaghan
Ervedya tackles Rothschild test
Mullins dominates Galway feature
Harty looking forward to a good Day
'Overwhelmed' Hughes bows out
Legatissimo stamps class on Nassau
Magical Dettori top gun at Goodwood
Dart hits Goodwood bullseye
Fantastic Frankie takes right Steps
Latharnach could drop back in trip
McNamara eager for training career
1 August 2015Rebel returns at Galway
No fairytale ending for Hughes
Stewards' glory for Magical Dettori
Legatissimo proves Nassau queen
Times targets Stewards' consolation
Hughes reflects on a golden career
Warrior books Ebor ticket
Muthmir makes amends
Hughes at his best on Bay
Mile proves golden for Beloved
Malabar stamps her class
Dettori guides Dubday to landmark
Charlton so Close to historic win
Diamonds ready to sparkle in Nassau
31 July 2015Pacy Muthmir rules in King George
Breizh bids for Galway glory
Pharoah Phan Phestival good to go
Jack's the lad in Galway Hurdle
Gosden salutes 'magical' Sir Peter
Laviniad gets up late in Corrib
Simple for Beckett and Bentley
Orange pips Goodwood rivals
Shalaa dazzles in Richmond
Relief for Hughes as Gibeon strikes
Cover up for Goodwood defence