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."
22 October 2016Waller targeting third Cox Plate win with Winx following Moonee Valley stroll
Simon Crisford sets Rodaini Newbury challenge
Neil Mulholland has Shantou Village ready to roll at Cheltenham
Winx impresse as she claims second Cox Plate victory
Heron Heights peaks as Henry de Bromhead returns to winning ways at Cheltenham
Frankel colt Mirage Dancer delivers at Doncaster
Blow for Bryan Smart as Delectation heads to Germany
Jonjo O'Neill sees sense in Carlisle comeback for More Of That
Legendary chaser Moscow Flyer dies aged 22
Yucatan leads the way for O'Brien in Trophy test at Doncaster
National Hunt Chase to be run in honour of JT McNamara
Identity Thief makes chasing bow at Punchestown
Norwegian raider Quarterback aiming for winning Newbury run
21 October 2016Frankel colt Mirage Dancer leaves it late to claim Doncaster honours
El Bandit plunders Cheltenham prize for red-hot Paul Nicholls
Jack Kennedy sidelined following new leg injury
Betway to sponsor three categories of the All-Weather Championships
David Elsworth mulling Lingfield outing for Swiss Storm
Mark Johnston pays tribute to The Last Lion as he retires to stud
Competition watchdog to probe online gambling firms amid unfair treatment claims
Charlie Appleby eyeing Breeders' Cup with Latharnach
Middle Park winner Shalaa retired to stud
Cloudy Dream stars as Brian Hughes bags Carlisle four-timer
I'dliketheoption sparks Jonjo O'Neill double at Ludlow
Thoughts turn to Dubai for Roger Varian and Postponed
Alpha Des Obeaux off the mark over fences at Thurles
Preis is right for Algometer
Henry de Bromhead to launch three-pronged Cheltenham raid
Yucatan spearheads Aidan O'Brien team as Capri swerves Doncaster date
20 October 2016'Special' Sprinter Sacre stands tall in Nicky Henderson dream team
'Sore' Alain Cawley faces lengthy absence after Kempton fall
Mick Fitzgerald remembers Rough Quest after death of Grand National winner
Betway signs deal to become Authorised Betting Partner
Dale Gibson pays tribute to Mark Birch
Ger Lyons backs Colin Keane to reach the top
Frankel colt Cracksman sparks Derby dream with Newmarket victory
Qewy strengthens Godolphin hand for Melbourne Cup
Melesina lands Group Three gold in France for Richard Fahey team
Henry Candy leaning towards Breeders' Cup Mile for Limato
Bay Of Poets pleases ahead of Racing Post Trophy
Adrian Keatley pondering French outing for Jet Setting
Gilgamboa on course to make Down Royal return
Thistlecrack entered for chasing debut at Chepstow on Tuesday
Annie Power pencilled in for Morgiana return
19 October 2016Northern stalwart Mark Birch dies, aged 67
Dreamfield makes it two from two at Newmarket
Sweet success for White Chocolate at Newmarket
Rohaut sets sights on Hong Kong trip with Signs Of Blessing
Cyril Murphy ready to plot Rawnaq Cheltenham route following Far Hills glory
Qewy claims Geelong Cup glory for Charlie Appleby
Leg injury rules Tryster out of Japanese challenge
Smart hurdler Old Guard off the mark over fences at Exeter
Shutter Speed in the frame for big things next season
John Gosden - Hong Kong an option for Jack Hobbs
My Dream Boat back for more next year
Dermot Weld expecting 'imminent' verdict on Harzand and Fascinating Rock
So Mi Dar and Journey to bypass Breeders' Cup
Joe Tuite vies for Royal-Oak rule with Litigant
Karl Burke plots Ascot Champions Day return for Quiet Reflection