Long Walk Hurdle Preview

Ascot

Horse Racing
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Published: 12/12/2011

Master stayer Big Bucks will be seeking to win his fifteenth race on the bounce when he goes to post at Ascot on December 17 for the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls stable star has monopolised the three mile hurdle division ever since unseating in the 2008 Hennessy Gold Cup, after which the decision was made to scrap a chasing career in favour of the smaller obstacles.

After three glorious seasons which have seen the eight year-old record a World Hurdle treble at the Cheltenham Festival, Big Bucks returned to action at Newbury in November and looked insurmountable in defeating a crop of decent rivals to triumph for a third time in the Long Distance Hurdle.

And as expected, Big Bucks will yet again be a hefty odds-on chance to bank another Grade One success at Ascot where he is likely to re-oppose a number of the exposed rivals which he has dispatched with consummate ease in the past.

The race, although a high class contest in its own right, is likely to provide Bucks an appropriate stepping stone towards an unprecedented fourth World Hurdle crown in March and the horse is unlikely to run again before the Festival if everything goes according to plan.

So of course, from a betting perspective, there is not a great deal of money to be made on the favourite unless you consider yourself to be far more than just a casual punter.

Almost definitely, Big Bucks is a proverbial cert for this Ascot showpiece.

However at projected odds of around 1/6, it is very hard to get excited, or even tempted into buying money – especially taking into account an old prediction of Nicholls’s whereby the Ditcheat handler suggested that the quirky Big Bucks would one day ‘pull himself up’.

Barring a freak occurrence of the above, the rest of the field will be merely scrapping it out for the place money and this will be matched by the punters who will be shrewdly trying to steal some each way value.

Many trainers and connections may be reluctant to take on Big Bucks, however, should a total of eight runners make it to the start, feasible each way alternatives will be on offer.

Nicky Henderson’s Oscar Whisky is being touted as a potential top class stayer and last season’s Champion Hurdle third may be thrown in at the deep end against the champion.

If so, he will easily be the most talented horse since Grand Crus to take on Big Bucks and should be nailed on to place with a strong run.

Petitfour has always been a little short of top class, however he shaped extremely well at Cheltenham in November after two years off the track and can also go well at big odds.

Many analysts and critics are keen to underrate Big Bucks due to the lack of quality opposition which he has constantly faced.

The Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot is unlikely to change those views; nonetheless it may still throw up a couple of surprises and give the Big Bucks team something to think about ahead of the Festival.

Ultimately, Bucks once again looks unbeatable – and being such a powerful traveller, the French bred now also holds an extra advantage over his rivals, whose required encouragement may not be satisfied over three miles due to the new whip restrictions.


© Frixo 2017

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