WILTSHIRE-TRAINED Smad Place is firmly on course for a second crack at the Ladbrokes World Hurdle on March 14.
The six-year-old finished third behind Big Buck's in the Cheltenham Festival feature last year but with that rival sidelined by injury, the three-mile crown appears an open contest this term.
Barbury Castle trainer Alan King has limited Smad Place to just two outings this term, with a slightly disappointing effort at Wetherby on his debut supplemented by a fine second in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.
Smad Place has not run since that Grade One in December as he has shown his best form on a decent surface, but King reports his charge in fine form at home.
"He's very much (on course for Cheltenham)," said King.
"I toyed with the idea of running him (in Sunday's National Spirit Chase at Fontwell) but with there being only two and a half weeks to the Festival, we decided not to as he is a horse who can take a little bit of time after his races.
"We would definitely like to see some better ground at Cheltenham, but he is on target."
Smad Place is as low as 13-1 with Stan James for the World Hurdle.
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