Big Buck’s back to bid for World Hurdle number five at Cheltenham 2014
An injury detected in the aftermath of his victory in Ascot’s Long Distance Hurdle was enough to rule Big Buck’s out of a tilt at a fifth consecutive World Hurdle in 2013.
The son of Cadoudal will be 11 by the time the 2014 renewal comes around and given he would have been the oldest World Hurdle winner since 1986 had he scored last year, his Cheltenham 2014 odds are likely to be more generous than they have been for many Festivals.
With the big dog at Paul Nicholls’ Ditcheat stables likely to be taking just one pre-Festival race there could be ample time to get stuck into his odds ahead of the next instalment of the greatest show on turf.
It would take a brave punter to include the winner of 18 consecutive races over hurdles in their Cheltenham 2014 tips at this stage, but the knowledge of his past exploits may well tempt some to take an ante-post gamble upon him returning to his best regardless.
Despite his utter dominance of the staying hurdles scene in recent seasons three of his four World Hurdle triumphs have come by a one-and-three-quarter-length distance that is modest by his own high standards.
His victory in 2012 was arguably the most exciting yet, with Voler La Vedette seemingly poised to end his spell of dominance, before being out-stayed by the champion inside the last two furlongs.
Big-Buck’s odds-on backers will have been thankful for that act of sheer defiance and all the more impressed given the Nicholls yard had been under an illness cloud which had seen many of their other stars underperform.
The ageing titan of the National Hunt game will need all that resolve and more if he’s to hold off the challenge of young pretenders like Rebecca Curtis’ At Fishers Cross and Noel Meade’s Monksland and land the odds at Cheltenham 2014.