Four-star Buck's set for Festival
Star hurdler primed for more Festival sucess
By David John. Last Updated: 16/01/12 5:22pm
Big Buck's will bid to make history in the Labrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March with a fourth successive victory in the contest.
Having beaten everything in his path on the way to an undefeated run of 14 straight victories over timber, the Nicky Henderson-trained Oscar Whisky has emerged as a potential pretender to his crown.
Owner Andy Stewart told sportinglife.com: "Oscar Whisky's owner Dai Walters has said why don't we split the prize money in the World Hurdle because I think I have the only horse that can beat Big Buck's.
"You never know what is going to beat Big Buck's - first of all you don't know whether Oscar Whisky will go for the Champion Hurdle as he has an option of going there if Hurricane Fly for one reason or another did not turn up.
"I assume Dai Walters will run him in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las and then we will see if he stays three miles at Cheltenham."
Big Buck's' last outing in Ascot's Lough Derg Long Walk Hurdle before Christmas saw him claim another Grade 1 prize and although he ran out a supremely easy winner, the race was not wihout incident as David Pipe's Dynaste looked to have stolen an advantage after the third last.
"I suppose we all had a little bit of a jitter," Stewart added.
"It just slowed him up a little bit as David Pipe's horse was trying to get him beaten but as soon as he skipped over that one, he managed to do it well and Five Dream came second also for Paul Nicholls.
"It was the first time Big Buck's had raced right-handed and Ruby (Walsh) said he wanted to be reasonably careful coming round the final bend. But he soon got everything under control and I am delighted that was his 14th win."
Stewart has seen nothing this season to suggest that Big Buck's is not still at the peak of his powers while still enjoying every second of being involved with perhaps the greatest staying hurdler of all time.
"Big Buck's has turned nine now and is a stronger horse than last year - I am not sure whether he has improved but he has certainly not gone backwards.
"It is an absolute privilege owning the horse. Little kids come up and ask if they can have the autograph of "Mr Big Buck's". We obviously feel the pressure but it is an enjoyable thing when you have a horse as phenomenal as he is."