Stewart hails ‘life-changing’ Big Buck’s

OWNER Andy Stewart admits the exploits of champion staying hurdler Big Buck’s have changed his life.

The Stewart Family’s red, white and black colours are some of the most recognisable on a British racecourse and their fame has only increased as Big Buck’s has continued to dominate his division.

He created history at Cheltenham last month when becoming the first horse to win three successive World Hurdles and victory in tomorrow’s BGC Partners Liverpool Hurdle would match that record.

Some horses find it tough to back up at Aintree after a hard run at the Festival, but Paul Nicholls’ charge has managed it for the last two years.

He even has a victory over fences to his name in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, although his chasing career famously came to an abrupt halt when he unseated Sam Thomas at the last in the 2008 Hennessy.

“He keeps on winning but he’s going to get beaten one day,” said Stewart.

“When you look through his form he’s beaten some good horses and some not so good horses.

“We’re going to run Gwanako as well. We know he can’t beat Big Buck’s or Grands Crus or some of the others but with Lough Derg not there, we don’t want them to dawdle.

“At Cheltenham, the rest thought the best way to get Big Buck’s beat was to go slow early but it didn’t work.

“It was very satisfying to see him ridden so differently and still win.

“I originally had Celestial Halo in the World Hurdle but Ruby (Walsh) said to me ”what are you running him for? He’s a proper horse, don’t worry about it“.

“I asked him what the tactics would be on the day and he told me all the other jockeys had a plan but he wasn’t worried, he just wanted to get on and ride him and that’s exactly what we’ll do here.

“With Aintree being a flatter track, that doesn’t really suit so we thought we’d run Gwanako just to be safe.

“I’ve always loved – even before we had Big Buck’s – the first race of the meeting at Aintree.

“It just sets it up so well, they do a magnificent job up there.

“He seems to be able to do Cheltenham and Aintree.

“It’s a very tough ask to have a hard race in a Grade One at Cheltenham and then come back (at Liverpool) just a couple of weeks later.”

nThe Willie Mullins trained Our Monty, generally a 40/1 chance, has been ruled out of Saturday’s John Smith’s Grand National due to a leg infection.

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