Big Buck's makes it 15 straight Sun, 29 Jan 2012
Big Buck's has marched ever closer to compiling the longest winning streak for a jumper in modern times after taking his tally to 15 in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham yesterday.
Should he claim a record-breaking fourth World Hurdle back at the course in March he will equal the mark of 16 set by Sir Ken back in the 1950s.
His latest performance was a deviation to the tried and tested formula outlined by trainer Paul Nicholls, but owner Andy Stewart preferred to see Big Buck's on the track rather than wound up for the Festival in March with a racecourse gallop.
As had been the case on his previous start in the Long Walk at Ascot, the 1-4 favourite was given a minor shake-up by David Pipe's emerging grey Dynaste, who surged to the front at the top of the hill.
There is an inevitability about Big Buck's that he will pick up anything bold enough to challenge him and he drew level at the final flight and eventually galloped seven lengths clear.
"Instead of giving him a racecourse gallop, we thought we'd come to Cheltenham so the public could see him and I'm very pleased we did," Stewart said. "It's great for racing and it gets everyone involved.
"He's reached 15 now so hopefully he will make it 16 at the festival. (Owner) Dai Walters says Oscar Whisky is going to take on Big Buck's on the Thursday at the Festival, so I look forward to that."
"He's never flashy but he just keeps going,” said the champion’s jockey Ruby Walsh. “I've never ridden a jumper that has won so many races in a row, and I'm unlikely to ride another one.”
Nicholls admitted there was some pressure attached to training a horse like Big Buck's. "If we won today it was great, but if we lost I was the one who was going to get shot," he said. "There is a lot of pressure with him but he's just a brilliant horse."