Horses To Follow » Big Buck's

Big Buck’s

There is nothing original about putting up Big Buck’s as a horse to follow, they have now rated him 2lb superior to Inglis Drever, but – scary thought – he is probably significantly better than the bare form of his World Hurdle win, and there is probably even better to come.

He was the first of the fancied horses to come off the bridle in the World Hurdle. If you hadn’t known that he was a horse who found lots for pressure, you would have bet against him finishing in the first three as they went down the hill. Ruby Walsh said afterwards that he was never worried, that he always knew he had plenty of horse under him, so much so that he was happy to allow him go in short and fiddle the last flight, that he was always happy that he would pick Punchestowns up on the run-in, which he duly did.

That mistake at the final flight was worse than has been made out. He went into the obstacle a half a length up and came out of it a half a length down. More than that, however, he lost all momentum as a result of the mistake. He landed a bit sideways, and Ruby effectively had to kick start him again. It is rare that you see a horse make a momentum-halting mistake when engaged in a battle at the last in a Cheltenham Festival contest and come up the hill as strongly as Big Buck’s did. And he was pricking his ears and idling inside the final 100 yards.

Big Buck’s finished two lengths clear of Punchestowns, and there was 17 lengths back to the third horse, so it is difficult to argue that these two are not the two best staying hurdlers in training, despite the fact that Kasbah Bliss did not receive an inspirational ride. Also, it is difficult to argue now that Big Buck’s is not a better staying hurdler than Punchestowns. He has beaten him twice, once in receipt of 8lb and now off level weights. He is only six years old and there is probably more to come. He is a deserving favourite for next year’s World Hurdle and, if you knew for sure that he was going to get there in one piece, and that he wasn’t going to go back over fences, he would even be value at 4/1.

12th March, 2009