There’s a saying in racing that “they never come back”, an adage that will be tested to the limit by the great Big Buck’s, whose connections are hopeful will return to the fray this coming autumn after being denied a chance to win his fifth successive Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival due to injury.
Big Buck’s dominated the staying hurdles division for four years from January 2009, never losing in 18 starts and fighting off all-comers who had the audacity to believe they could take away his title.
Last season, the gelded son of Cadoudal began as he had left off the previous term, landing his 18th win on the bounce with a comfortable success over Reve de Sivola in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Ascot and was long odds-on with betfair.com to land a fifth title at Cheltenham in March.
A tiny tear in tissue in his leg, however, put a cruel ended to Big Buck’s’ season and was a major contributing factor to Paul Nicholls’ failing to retain his trainers’ championship, which went the way of arch-rival, Nicky Henderson. The Ditcheat handler reported in mid-September that his star is now back in light training but that he will not be ready to reappear on the racecourse before Christmas.
Nicholls went on to suggest that he would seek to bring the Andy Stewart-owned 10-year-old back to action in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in the New Year after which, if all goes well, he will attempt to win back his crown that went the way of Irish stayer, Solwhit, in the absence of the great horse.
Bookmakers are open-minded about the chance of Big Buck’s coming back to his peak, rating him a 4/1 ante-post favourite, just ahead of Irish stars, At Fisher’s Cross and Solwhit.