Sunday 19 January 2020

Big Buck's to lead Nicholls' Aintree charge

Owner Andy Stewart believes Big Buck's will lead a Paul Nicholls fightback as the trainer launches an all-out defence of his crown at the Grand National meeting at Aintree next month.

The trainers' championship is decided on win and place prize money, so emphasis on the big meetings is paramount.

Following a brilliant Cheltenham Festival, where he saddled seven winners, and a treble at Kempton on Saturday, Nicky Henderson knocked Nicholls off the top of the table.

But Stewart believes the battle for the crown has only just started. "I think this will go right down to the wire," he predicted.

Big Buck's, unbeaten since November 2008, will be bidding to better Sir Ken's record of 16 straight wins over hurdles in the Liverpool Hurdle.

He won the Ladbrokes World Hurdle for the fourth consecutive time last week, and Stewart believes his champion can win for the fifth consecutive year at the Grand National meeting.

"In 2008, he won the Mildmay Novices' Chase. Since then, he has been back every year to win the Liverpool Hurdle and he will have a crack this time," said Stewart.

"But, after Liverpool, he'll be having his holiday. We won't be going to Punchestown. All going well, we would love to try for a fifth World Hurdle next year."

Irish Independent

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