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Last Updated: 08/04/10 4:40pm
Big Buck's - Aintree winner.
Big Buck's is living up to his name for trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Andy Stewart as the staying doyen rattled off his eighth consecutive success in the BGC Partners Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree.
The dual Cheltenham Festival winner took his career winnings through the £700,000 barrier as he came clear under Ruby Walsh as the 30-100 favourite.
The seven-year-old followed up his Ladbrokes World Hurdle win 12 months earlier by scoring on Merseyside and he again pulled off the same double, despite a less-than-polished display.
He has looked untouchable since connections turned his attentions back to timber following his final-fence mishap in the 2008 Hennessy, but needs serious opposition to show his true colours.
With plenty in hand of his rivals on official ratings and with Cheltenham runner-up Time For Rupert a late absentee, Big Buck's faced the danger of finding himself in front too soon.
But Walsh bided his time and managed to hold on to the red-hot favourite under the final flight when he grasped the nettle and took command from Possol.
He then only needed to be pushed out to assert and eventually claimed Souffleur's scalp by nearly three lengths, with Possol relegated to third.
Nicholls said: "He runs to the race and the better the race the better he is, and in a lesser race he only does enough.
"We all know what he is like but he is a high-class horse. He is unbeaten in eight starts over hurdles (in Britain) and he is super.
"He is a character and is a big baby mentally but is easy to train fitness-wise.
"He can idle on occasions but that is just him. He needs a lead as long as possible or else he can get beat.
"We knew this race would not suit him but he has a lot of class and just does enough.
"If he is to run in, or win, a Gold Cup (one day) then he needs to be put away now and you won't see him until Newbury on Hennessy day now.
"We know what we have got and we need to manage him and look after him."
With Nicholls still having the super powers of Kauto Star and Denman at his Ditcheat base, Big Buck's looks certain to stay over timber with Ladbrokes leaving him unchanged as the 5-4 favourite for a third win in their World Hurdle.
"I suspect he will stay over hurdles next season as he will only be eight this time next year," confirmed Nicholls.
"We did school him over eight baby fences a fortnight ago and I don't see his jumping being a problem."
Stewart added: "The next thing for him will be a holiday. I should think he will be turned out in a field and will come back for the same four races next year.
"He is still a young horse and every time Paul tells me that Kauto Star and Denman are getting old enough to buy a round of drinks, I tell him that I want to stick to hurdling and not to go chasing."
Walsh said: "He has a habit of making a mistake or two. He's jumped very well all the same.
"It's pretty much good ground all the way. It was a true-run race and he picked up really well in the straight.
"He pinged the last and he was only doing enough to stay in front, that's what he does."
Souffleur finished a clear-cut second and trainer Peter Bowen is eyeing further Grade One targets.
He said: "I'm over the moon with that.
"There's no race for him at Ayr but that would come a bit soon for him anyway, so the plan is to go to Punchestown for a Grade One three-mile hurdle and then have a crack at the French Champion Hurdle."
Henry Daly is aiming much more low-key with Possol, and added: "I was tracking them and thought he might nick a bit of prize money which he has.
"It's possible he could go to Perth for a conditions hurdle but if not that will be it for the season."