A tiny tear to a tendon seems to have robbed Big Buck’s of the chance to win a historic fifth Ladbrokes World Hurdle and Quevega has been immediately installed as the favourite to take advantage.
There have been calls for numerous years for the duo to square off at the Cheltenham Festival, but Quevega’s trainer Willie Mullins has always backed down and sent his horse to the Mares’ Hurdle instead, which she has also won for four straight years.
The probable reason for this is because Ruby Walsh is the main jockey for both horses and if push came to shove, he would choose Big Buck’s.
But with this conundrum no longer existing, it would be foolish to prevent Quevega taking on the boys again, especially with the added prize money on offer.
She has regularly beaten her male counterparts in Ireland, with comfortable victories over former World Hurdle third Mourad, Mikael D’Haguenet and Carlito Brigante.
The Ladbrokes World Hurdle would still be her toughest assignment to date if she wishes to extend her unbeaten run to seven starts.
Punters concerned about taking the 3/1 for fear that she will tackle the Mares’ Hurdle again may also have trouble trusting an appearance from the other ante-post leading contenders.
Oscar Whisky comes next in the betting at 7/1, but he didn’t see out the 3m last season and is potentially the best in the business over 2m4f.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has previously stated that he wouldn’t consider the World Hurdle again and would instead focus on the Champion Hurdle over 2m and hope for testing ground.
The defection of Big Buck’s may cause Henderson to reassess his plans, but this is another risk.
Peddlers Cross is interesting at 12/1 given his return to hurdles after a failed chasing career, but again there are doubts as to whether he gets 3m.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date