Thursday 30 March 2017

Ruby leads Big Buck's to World domination

Ruby Walsh celebrates winning the Ladbrokes World Hurdle on Big Buck's during day three of Cheltenham. Photo: PA
Ruby Walsh celebrates winning the Ladbrokes World Hurdle on Big Buck's during day three of Cheltenham. Photo: PA

Big Buck's cemented his position as the top staying hurdler in the business as he achieved back-to-back victories in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls' charge had dug deep to see off Punchestown in the three-mile contest last year - but barely had to hit top gear this time as he strolled away with the Grade One feature.

Ruby Walsh's mount was hard on the bridle throughout and although Time For Rupert put up a gallant effort in second, he could never put the 5-6 favourite under enough pressure.

War Of Attrition made most of the running but Time For Rupert took over turning into the straight, although Walsh could be seen travelling ominously well.

The Festival's winning-most jockey had a leisurely look around for dangers but they were non-existent and after a slightly scrappy jump at the last, Big Buck's was pushed out with hands and heels for a three-and-a-quarter-length win.

Powerstation was back in third, the same position he filled 12 months ago.

Walsh said: "He's a special horse. He's absolutely bolted in.

"He's a horse that doesn't want to be in front too long. I knew the ones I fancied, like Karabak, would follow me though.

"He's got a terrific engine and that was a good round of jumping, he jumped better today than he ever has done."

Nicholls added: "He's a hugely talented horse. It's unbelievable. I worked the horses on Saturday morning - Poquelin, Master Minded, Kauto Star, the lot. They all worked well but he worked like a hairy goat.

"That's just him and I lost confidence a bit and I was sweating beforehand.

"He never hit a flat spot today. We were keen to get him fresh and you have to get into his head a bit more than anything. He's very good."

Paul Webber was delighted with Time For Rupert's run as the six-year-old posted a career-best effort.

He said: "Absolutely no excuses - he's run a cracking race and it's a thrill to get that close to Big Buck's.

"William (Kennedy) has given him a copybook ride.

"He's always given us the impression that he would improve by 7lb or 8lb from his previous run which he has achieved but we are still 7lb short of Big Buck's.

"If he's OK, I would be keen to go to Liverpool with him because by the time Punchestown comes round, the going will be getting a bit quick."

Eamon O'Connell, trainer of Powerstation, said: "He's our flag-bearing horse and he's unbelievable for us because I only have 13 in the stable.

"We struggled to get him here but he travelled very easily turning in, after that we were just hoping for the line.

"He'll probably go to Punchestown now, although the owners are quite keen to look at the French Champion Hurdle."

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