Tidal Bay 03/11/2012

Tidal Bay: will switch back to hurdles at Cheltenham before the National

  PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)  

World Hurdle and Grand National plan for Tidal

AFTER watching Silviniaco Conti lay down a serious Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup marker with victory in the Betfair Denman Chase on Saturday, Paul Nicholls says stablemate and recent Lexus Chase winner Tidal Bay is now "highly likely" to bid for Cheltenham Festival glory in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Tidal Bay is as short as 10-1 for the Gold Cup but Nicholls favours a tilt at the World Hurdle, a race he has won for the last four years with the sidelined Big Buck's.

"We have yet to finalise plans but we are now highly likely to run Tidal Bay in the World Hurdle," said Nicholls in his Betfair blog.

BetVictor go just 5-1 about the 2008 Arkle winner landing a second festival win in the World Hurdle and Nicholls added: "Of course, we will leave him in the Gold Cup until the last minute, but as it stands our plan with him is the World Hurdle and then the Grand National. He will go straight to Cheltenham."

Assessing Silviniaco Conti's Gold Cup credentials, Nicholls said: "People don't believe you when you say you have left a lot to work on with horses in these prep races - they think it is a matter of getting your excuses in early - but, trust me, that would have been like his first run of the season for him. So it was a great result, with so much to build on fitness-wise."

After Saturday’s win Silviniaco Conti is now a best price 6-1 with the sponsors and Boylesports to hand Nicholls a fifth Gold Cup.

As sporting sights go, few match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree for the John Smith's Grand National.

A race steeped in history that always provides a story, the Grand National is the ultimate test of endurance and skill for both horse and jockey, as the pairing must navigate 30 treacherous fences, and then still have enough stamina to make a challenge on the run-in.

To manage a clear round in the 4m4f epic is no mean achievement, with the fences notoriously difficult and offering unique challenges.

Over the years, there have been countless memorable moments, Devon Loch's phantom leap in the 1956 contest, Foinavon's shock 100-1 win in 1967 and the brilliance of Red Rum, who took the chase on three occasions in 1973, 74 and 77.

In 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion completed a heartwarming tale when winning the race, as Aldaniti had recovered from a career-threatening injury while jockey Champion had battled back from cancer.

In 2011 the race provided another fairytale story as Donald McCain emulated his father and Aintree legend Ginger when winning with Ballabriggs - and that came just a year after champion jockey Tony McCoy finally gained victory in the race at the 15th time of asking.