Latest Cheltenham tips on the World Hurdle, with Annie Power and Big Bucks taking all the bets, Paddy Power announced this morning.
The due are set to do battle in the showpiece on Thursday at the Festival.
Four-time World Hurdle champion Big Buck’s has all the credentials and a clear staying edge over his main market rival Annie Power to run out a fifth winner of the World Hurdle on Thursday.
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Willie Mullins’ star mare is a classy sort but her stamina is not guaranteed. Although the money has been pouring in on her chances, we’re more interested in following the World Hurdle legend at 3/1 than taking a very short price, around the 7/4 mark, on the chances of the mare.
A lot has been talked about regarding Big Buck’s comeback run in the Cleeve Hurdle and most of it has been complete rubbish.
Strange views have been spouted, from some pretty well respected sources too, about his performance after being off the track for nearly two years.
Yes, he was beaten by Knockera Beau, yes he didn’t seem to see his race out with his usual class but there are mitigation circumstances and everything that I wanted to see from Big Buck’s on his return in order to believe he still retains his ability was there.
Firstly, and this has been overlooked by many, Big Buck’s jumped like the stag he always was. He never missed a hurdle under Sam Twiston-Davies, who was riding him for the first time. Secondly, he travelled like the best horse in the race.
Twiston-Davies sent him to the front with three to jump due to the fact he was travelling so well and everything looked in trouble as they approached the last. It was there, where clearly, his fitness and inability to handle the ground cost him the race.
Big Buck’s has never been a horse that relishes really testing ground and I have no doubt we will see a far more potent finish at Cheltenham on Thursday where the ground is going to be much quicker.
Trainer Paul Nicholls is also a master at getting an older horse fit after a long layoff. Just look at the list: Kauto Star, Denman, Tidal Bay and Neptune Collonges all had their problems in old age before coming back to win Grade Ones. Big Buck’s won’t have been 100% spot on in the Cleeve Hurdle but when Nicholls says he expects him to improve nearly a stone for the race it certainly pays to listen to a man of that ilk.
Let’s hope history repeats itself for a fifth time.