It is not uncommon for a sporting champion to return from a lengthy hiatus to effectively continue where they left off when making their return to the profession.
Ronnie O’Sullivan took eight months out of snooker in the 2012/13 season, only to win the World Championships for the fifth time in his first tournament back.
Floyd Mayweather was out of the boxing ring for the best part of two years after beating Ricky Hatton to take his record to 39-0. However, little had changed when he returned in 2009 to claim a unanimous decision success over four-weight world champion Juan Manuel Marquez.
And more recently, Rafael Nadal spent around nine months away from the tennis circuit with a knee injury, but he has played about 75 matches since his return, losing only five times.
This includes two Grand Slam triumphs at the French Open and US Open.
The 2013/14 National Hunt season is also eagerly awaiting the comeback of one of its biggest stars, with Big Buck’s set to return from a leg injury.
The four-time winner of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival has not been seen since extending his unbeaten streak to 18 races when landing the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in December 2012.
Big Buck’s will not return until January at the earliest, but there is a strong possibility that he will head straight to Cheltenham in March without a preparation run to contest another World Hurdle.
He is only joint-favourite in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle odds at present at 4/1, but there is every possibility that he will retain his old ability and if he does, the pretenders to his crown of being the top staying hurdler will need to drastically improve.
Solwhit is 5/1 to defend the title he claimed in the absence of Big Buck’s in 2013, but he only holds an official rating of 166.
Last season’s best staying novice At Fishers Cross is the other horse at 4/1, but his rating has only risen to 157.
Big Buck’s has previously repelled the challenges of Punchestowns, Kasbah Bliss and Grands Crus, who were all rated 169 or higher, and so he again looks the clear horse to beat, with 4/1 potentially a lucrative price.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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