It has been five years since Big Buck’s was available at a bigger price than 4-1. In that time Paul Nicholls’ star won an incredible four World Hurdles on the spin before a serious injury took him off the track for 14 months.
Currently Big Buck’s is that price to win his fifth World Hurdle and the lads on the trading floor are keen to take him on. They have decent reason too, after all they get paid a healthy amount of Benjamins to make these decisions.
- Big Bucks is an 11-year-old. It’s been 28 years since a gee-gee that close to a pension and a free bus pass won the Stayers’ Hurdle.
- He’s coming back off a serious injury and there are considerable doubts about whether the superstar retains the same incredible ability he once had
- Annie Power has a 7lb mares allowances, which means the 170-rated Big Buck’s will need to be at his very best if he is to beat Willie Mullins’ incredible mare
But despite all this, Big Buck’s is a tasty bet thanks to Paddy Power’s brain-fart of a decision to give Money-Back if your selection finishes second to Annie Power.
Big Buck’s was little more than half a length behind At Fishers Cross in third place in the Cleeve Hurdle after a 14 month layoff. On heavy ground. After a ride that was arguably, too positive. He was giving weight away to two mud-lovers after not racing for more than a year, and still was only beaten in the last 150 yards.
Timeform number-cruncher Michael Williamson calculated that, ‘horses that put in a creditable reappearance (on Timeform ratings) after more than a 12 month absence have a 36 per cent chance of running to form in their second race, compared to just 11 per cent for those who under-perform on their reappearance.’ Get your head around those numbers and that’s more than a glimmer of hope for Big Buck’s fans.
If you wanted another confidence booster, trainer Paul Nicholls, confirmed last month that Big Buck’s was still his best chance at Cheltenham.
‘I was really thrilled with that run (in the Cleeve Hurdle) at Cheltenham’, Nicholls told the Racing Post. He loves the time of year and he is coming right. I still think he has as big a chance as anything I’ve got running there.’
Nicholls is a man who knows how to look after stayers at the top-level, even when they are reaching for their pipe and slippers. The following gee-gees were all trained by Nicholls and all won the following races at the same age Big Buck’s is now.
- Kauto Star – King George 2011
- Neptune Collonges – Grand National 2012
- Tidal Bay – Bet365 Gold Cup 2012
- Tidal Bay – Lexus Chase 2012
Not a bad CV.
There is no shadow of a doubt that if Annie Power stays – and that in itself is a huge if – then Big Buck’s will have to put in a huge performance to beat her, and that is a massive ask after his injury. But if it comes down to those two battling it out up Cleeve Hill then a runners-up spot for Big Buck’s will get punters their cold hard cash back thanks to Paddy’s MBS. If he wins, even better.
As a potential bet to nothing, he could be real value.