The indestructible Big Buck’s created history at Cheltenham yesterday when becoming the first horse to win four Ladbrokes’ World Hurdles.
Adding to that he also equalled Sir Ken’s record of 16 straight wins, set between 1951 and ‘53. Indeed, Ruby Walsh is on record as saying the horse can make it 20 and who would argue with that now? The relationship between Big Buck’s and Walsh is one made in Heaven and the magnificent pilot understands the horse probably in a way that no one else could.
Big Buck’s was always on the pace, but there were times during the contest when you would not want to be with him.
But he has been that way all of his life and, when it was time to get down and dirty, wasn’t found wanting.
Walsh made the long surge for home going to two out and Big Buck’s, typically, responded. He kicked hard early in the straight and though gallant mare, Voler La Vedette, briefly threatened to spoil the party, Big Buck’s kept pulling it out, even if he was weaving about a bit, and was a length and three parts to the good at the line.
Walsh made little of such antics. He said: “I was happy enough when he started to run off the rail after the second last, because I was thinking that it was going to take a fair one to get past him.
“He stuck his head down and went for home, is never flat out and always has a bit left. I was confident enough he would outstay the others.’’
Paul Nicholls, Rock On Ruby aside in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday, has had a bad week. “He saved us, we needed that,’’ said the champion trainer.
“I was a bit worried, they have been totally out of form, apart from Rock On Ruby, it has been a bit of a disaster.
“Stupid little things have gone wrong and the cards just haven’t fallen right for us.
“For me winning today means more than anything. This was our number one target and the one I wanted, because he is so special.
“That was a great ride by Ruby and when Big Buck’s was pricking his little ears going to the last I knew we were in business.
“Ruby needed that, I needed that, the whole team needed that, it’s brilliant. Let’s hope he can come back next year and make it five.’’ Colm Murphy surprised most pundits by aiming Voler La Vedette at the World Hurdle, rather than Tuesday’s Mares’ Hurdle.
His bold move was vindicated. Commented Murphy: “She’s run an absolute blinder. We’re so thrilled and proud, but gutted at the same time.
“Going to the last, I thought she had every chance, but he was always holding her, almost toying with her.
“She is unlucky to have run into a legend, but all being well we will be back next year for another go.’’
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved