Four in a Row for Big Bucks
(Healy Racing Photos)
Paul Nicholls' star staying hurdler drew one step closer to equalling the British record of 21 consecutive victories (set by Meteor in the eighteenth century) with his win in the Grade Two contest.
Sent off at the prohibitive price of 1/12 the son of Cadoudal made it 18 in a row without coming off the bridle as he outclassed his opponents.
He was kept company by stablemate Five Dream who was fractionally in front when jumping the third last but Ruby Walsh was motionless and took several long, lingering looks behind and to both sides up the straight as he and Big Buck's were never in any danger at any stage of the contest.
Reve De Sivola stayed on to finish second having been the first to come under pressure while Fox Appeal finished third having briefly attempted to try and make a race of it but the five year old failed to get close to the winner despite Dougie Costello's best efforts.
The winning distance was nine lengths and even Costello was moved to give Big Buck's a pat down the neck as the runners gathered to head back to the winner's enclosure.
Walsh said: "He's a wonderful horse, he's bombproof. As soon as he got on the track he came alive today and travelled beautifully.
"From the time we quickened up from the cross fence he was just coasting. He's a bit of an oddball, but I suppose all geniuses are the same."
Nicholls said: "From what I've seen at home, he's as good as he's ever been, and as he is only nine he is relatively young compared with horses like Kauto Star.
"He is very professional and that will put him right for the Grade One at Ascot in three weeks' time (Long Walk Hurdle).
"I know because he's a hurdler he's not the sexiest horse, but he can't do anything more than beat the horses he runs against.
"He's doing what he's best at, and just like Frankel on the Flat, we are running him in the right races.
"It will take a very special horse to beat him, as he is such a professional."
Sky Bet cut Big Buck's to 4/5 from even money to win a fifth World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Jockey Andrew Leigh recorded his seventh win of the season when steering the Sean Byrne trained Lead Kindly Light to win the Bar One Racing Ballyhack Handicap Steeplechase (Grade B) at Fairyhouse today.