By Simon Jackson
The record breaking Big Buck’s heads the betting at 2-1 for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with Paddy Power after 29 entries were received today for the staying hurdlers’ championship at Cheltenham.
The Paul Nicholls-trained gelding has been sidelined since December 2012 after extending his unbeaten run to 18 with an emphatic victory in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.
The 11-year-old had earlier broken the record for successive victories over obstacles when securing his 17th straight win by landing the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree in April 2012.
The four-time World Hurdle winner looks set to make his comeback in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday week, after successfully completing a racecourse gallop at Exeter last month and the Irish bookmaker is taking no chances should he be back to his best.
“It’s a tricky one as if Big Buck’s returns the horse that he was, he’ll probably win,” said Power whose firm are offering money back on non-runners in the World Hurdle, Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“If he doesn’t, an animal like Annie Power, who is still unbeaten after nine starts, will have no hesitation in filling the breach,” Power added.
Nicholls had earlier expressed his satisfaction with Big Buck’s well-being after the gallop at Exeter: “Our plan was to go for the Cleeve Hurdle ahead of the World Hurdle and then possibly take in Aintree in the spring,” he said.
“To be quite honest he looks as good as new, and when you consider the likes of Tidal Bay and Kauto Star he is still a young horse and there is no reason he won’t be as good as he’s ever been.”
Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Paddy Power): 2 Big Buck’s, 3 Annie Power, 6 More Of That, 8 Boston Bob, 10 At Fishers Cross, Saphir Du Rheu, Zarkandar, 12 Celestial Halo, Reve De Sivola, Monksland, 16 Smad Place, Rule The World, Salubrious, 33 bar
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