Sport 66-1 shot Auroras Encore, left, won the race last year

The number will have to be whittled down before the race in April

Hurricane Fly, ridden by Ruby Walsh, winning the Irish Champion Hurdle on Sunday

Hurricane Fly defies all the doubts to clock up No 19

Hurricane Fly confirmed he will not give up his crown at Cheltenham in March without a fight after clinching a fourth successive BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle and his 19th Grade One win in thrilling style at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Knock out: Knockara Beau (right) reels in Big Buck’s at the final obstacle of the Cleeve Hurdle to beat the marathon specialist on his return from injury

Big Buck’s brings World Hurdle in range despite running out of puff

Favourite beaten after 420 days out with injury as 66-1 shot claims galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdles at Cheltenham

Big Buck's wins in 2012 at Cheltenham, where he returns on Saturday after missing last year

Reve De Sivola to deny Buck’s a dream return

Big Buck’s is back. More than a year after effortlessly extending his unbeaten sequence to 18, the four-time World Hurdle winner returns to Cheltenham for the Cleeve Hurdle on trials day to great fanfare and the delight of everyone connected with the sport.

Sire De Grugy's star is rising: five wins from his last six starts

Sire De Grugy to hold court again during exile of the two-mile king

The heart may want Somersby to win Saturday's Clarence House Chase at Ascot as a timely tribute to Terry Biddlecombe, who died two weekends ago. But the head says Sire De Grugy.

Ballydoyle lose leading earner St Nicholas Abbey

St Nicholas Abbey, the Classic flop who became the winner of six Group One races and the highest-earning runner in the history of Ballydoyle, lost his battle with chronic health problems when he had to be put down after an attack of colic.

Sheikh Mohammed, pictured, said that disgraced former trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni would never work with his horses again

Godolphin doping scandal 'shocked' Sheikh Mohammed

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum has broken his silence on the Godolphin doping scandal and said that "the truth" would emerge from an ongoing inquiry.

CCTV footage of Rebekah Brooks' husband allegedly hiding evidence from the police was shown to the jury

Hacking trial: Jury sees CCTV footage of Rebekah Brooks' husband allegedly hiding evidence from police

CCTV footage of Rebekah Brooks' husband allegedly hiding evidence from the police investigating phone hacking has been shown to a jury.

Three-time champion over jumps Terry Biddlecombe dies at 72

Terry Biddlecombe, the three-times champion jump jockey who in later life was associated with the triple Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate, died on Sunday, aged 72.

Sprinter Sacre pleased connections yesterday after his Kempton scare

Injury rules Sir Des Champs out for the season

Last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs will miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a tendon injury.

Irish trainer Willie Mullins must choose between several Festival targets for Annie Power, pictured

Willie Mullins aims to find Annie Power’s real strengths

Annie Power, unbeaten in eight starts, goes on trial at Cheltenham on Wednesday in the Dornan Engineering Hurdle, but nobody seems really sure which Festival race she is on trial for.

Merry King ready to revel in mud of Chepstow marathon

In keeping with everything else about Christmas, there’s almost too much for the racing fan to appreciate and digest at the moment.

Barry Geraghty riding Sprinter Sacre before pulling up in the Desert Orchid Steeple Chase

Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton: Sprinter Sacre’s unbeaten run ended amid heart scare

Sprinter Sacre started the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton yesterday unbeaten in 10 chases and all but lionised as the Frankel of jumping; three-fifths of the way through the contest he had given up the struggle, not as some equine Graeme Swann but a fallen idol whose spirit was willing but flesh proved all too weak.

Silviniaco Conti turns tables on Cue Card to restore Nicholls’ King George crown

Another day, another race. Silviniaco Conti, only third behind Cue Card when the pair met in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month, took glorious revenge yesterday in the second of the domestic season’s four top-level staying chases, the King George VI Chase at Kempton. And the seven-year-old’s three-and-a-half-length defeat of his rival has sent him to the head of the market for the third, and most important, the Cheltenham Gold Cup itself.

King George VI Chase: Long Run has the stamina to trump Cue Card

Conventional racing wisdom has it that speed, rather than an abundance of stamina, is the most important attribute in a potential King George VI Chase winner, hence the proliferation of specialists over shorter distances than three miles lining up at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Gordon Elliott can win The Ladbroke, for the second year running, with Flaxen Flare at Ascot

Ascot: Big Buck’s looms large as stayers cross swords

While At Fishers Cross and Reve De Sivola do battle for the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot today, one cannot get away from the sense that the most significant action in their staying hurdlers’ category took place in a training spin at Exeter on Thursday.

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Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
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Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape