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Big Buck's to be held in reserve for Festival run


Big Buck's trainer Paul Nicholls. Photo: Getty Images

Big Buck's trainer Paul Nicholls. Photo: Getty Images

Big Buck's trainer Paul Nicholls. Photo: Getty Images

Big Buck's will not be seen on the track again until he bids for a third consecutive Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Paul Nicholls had considered slotting in another start at Prestbury Park after he took his winning sequence over timber to 10 following another easy success in the rearranged Long Walk at Newbury.

However, Nicholls said yesterday: "I have had a discussion with (owner) Andy Stewart this morning and we have decided that Big Buck's will sidestep the Cleeve Hurdle and go straight to the Cheltenham Festival.

"Taking in the Cleeve Hurdle was our original plan but he will be given a break instead and his campaign will now mirror last season's, with the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals as his next targets."

Meanwhile, Ben Case believes Dance Island will be "well up to the task" when he contests Saturday's rearranged Coral Welsh National.

The eight-year-old chased home Burton Port in the Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree in the spring and arrives in Wales less battle-scarred than many of his rivals.

After a spin over hurdles, he finished second to the improving King Fontaine at Haydock and his trainer believes he ticks most of the boxes.

"I don't know how strong a case he has but he ran well on his first run back over fences when he just got a little bit tired at Haydock," said Case.

"He likes the ground at Chepstow, he's won over hurdles round there and he's off a nice racing weight and is still improving. I think mentally and physically he's well up to the task."

Chepstow's forecast appears to be favourable, although clerk of the course Keith Ottesen remains vigilant.

"We are soft, good to soft in places," he said. "There's not a massive amount of moisture in there but we had a little rain this morning. There was some snow on the track but it has now gone.

"It should remain warm through Saturday afternoon. We wouldn't mind some rain and I would take that forecast, but it's bound to change and you can take nothing for granted."

Coral Welsh National -- sponsors bet: 11/2 Synchronised, 8/1 Maktu, 10/1 Dance Island, 12/1 Dream Alliance, Summery Justice, Watamu Bay, 14/1 Silver By Nature, 16/1 bar.

Irish Independent