Punchestowns, Kasbah Bliss, Karabak, Grands Crus, Oscar Whisky and Voler La Vedette are all horses that have been fancied to get the better of Big Buck’s in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, but all have failed in their respective bids.
The 2014 Cheltenham Festival is already on course to be a classic, with Hurricane Fly expected to take on talented novices Our Conor, My Tent Or Yours and The New One in the Champion Hurdle, Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig potentially doing battle in the Champion Chase and Bobs Worth sure to return to defend the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
However, the return of Big Buck’s could eclipse each of these moments as he bids for a fifth World Hurdle triumph after being robbed of the opportunity to do so in 2013 because of injury.
Big Buck’s is the favourite to regain his crown at 4/1 and it should be remembered that he is still on a record-breaking winning run of 18 straight victories.
How well he returns from his leg injury remains to be seen and Big Buck’s will be an 11-year-old by the time the next Festival comes around.
Meanwhile, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle has been run since 1972 and only once has a horse aged 10 or over come out on top, which was Crimson Embers in 1986.
This highlights the size of the task that Big Buck’s has in winning the Ladbrokes World Hurdle again and the next list of challengers are already queuing up.
At Fishers Cross won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over 3m at Cheltenham this year and is 6/1 to step up into the senior ranks and win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
However, it is 2013 champion Solwhit that is most intriguing at 8/1 to defend his title.
His trainer Charles Byrnes has started the early war of words by suggesting that even if Big Buck’s was fit in 2013, he still wouldn’t have beaten Solwhit.
The one thing in Solwhit’s victory was that the early pace was fairly pedestrian; if Big Buck’s was in the field then he would have surely pushed on from an earlier stage to bring his stamina into play.
It will certainly be intriguing to see what happens in 2014.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.