herald

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Walters' Festival decision waiting on taste of Whisky

Owner Dai Walters believes only a spectacular performance in the William Hill Welsh Champion Hurdle can change Oscar Whisky' Cheltenham Festival target.

Walters and trainer Nicky Henderson are very likely to step the gelding up to three miles for a crack at reigning Ladbrokes World Hurdle champion Big Buck's in March, rather than stick at two for the Stan James Champion Hurdle, a race in which he finished third last year.

Oscar Whisky went on to lift the Aintree Hurdle last season and has remained at the intermediate distance of two and a half miles this winter.

He fell heavily in the Ascot Hurdle but collected on his next two starts at Cheltenham in impressive fashion.

Walters' first objective is to see the seven-year-old defend his title at Ffos Las, the track he owns, on February 4.

"He's entered for the two races at Cheltenham and we'll see how he runs a week on Saturday," said Walters.

"If he breaks all records and people start talking, then who knows, but it's 60-40 that he goes for the World Hurdle. But when you've got a class horse, anything can happen."

Oscar Whisky is a general 5-1 second-favourite behind Big Buck's, the three-time winner of the stayers' crown and long odds-on again.

Walters added: "A lot of people have been saying if any horse has got a chance (of beating Big Buck's), then it's going to be Oscar.

"I'm not going to be bullish, but Oscar will be one of the best he has come up against and is a lot stronger than last year.

"He'd be capable of being placed in the Champion again but you can see what he does when you give him another half a mile.

"Obviously we've got Big Buck's to beat, but if his stamina lasts he must have as good a chance as any to get close to him."

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