Ruby Walsh believes the legendary Big Buck’s enjoyed his best performance in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on his first attempt back in 2009.
The Paul Nicholls-trained superstar won four consecutive renewals between 2009 and 2012, with Ruby on board for every victory at Prestbury Park .
Speaking on the latest episode of our ‘Countdown to Cheltenham’ podcast ahead of this year’s Paddy Power-sponsored race, Ruby explains why it’s so rare to have multiple winners in this event.
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Often horses that show a lot of stamina over hurdles go chasing straight away, but Big Buck’s was just a little bit different to normal horses – he won four World Hurdles. There have been lots of one-off winners of this race – Nichols Canyon won one, Paisley Park won one and he is now coming back to try and win a second, Lisnagar Oscar has only won one.
Inglis Drever was obviously a prolific winner of the race, and once horses prove they have that latent stamina they can come back for these kind of races but there is a really good programme for staying hurdlers, especially in the UK, to progress to chasing.
Paisley Park and Thyme Hill have gone down that road this year, starting at Newbury then going to the Long Walk at Ascot and the Cleeve Hurdle, Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle and the 3m hurdle at Aintree. There are five races there – two Grade 2s and three Grade 1s – and on they go. It’s a straightforward programme.
The Stayers’ Hurdle is a tough race, so horses need to be resilient and have plenty of ability to keep coming back and winning.
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I think Big Buck’s’ first performance at Cheltenham in 2009 was probably the strongest race, when he beat Punchestowns, Powerstation and Kasbah Bliss. That was probably the strongest renewal he won.
He beat Voler La Vedette in 2012, while he beat Time For Rupert in 2010 – that was probably the shallowest race – and he also beat Grand Crus in 2011, but his best race was probably his first.
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