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Big Buck's Set for Cleeve Hurdle Outing

Racing fans might very well have expected that they wouldn't see the mighty Big Buck's again until he attempts to land a fourth successive Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but champion trainer Paul Nicholls has revealed that he is now keen to let the great horse have one more outing prior to the defence of his title and has pencilled in a visit to the Prestbury track at the end of January for the Cleeve Hurdle, writes Elliot Slater.

Big Buck's

Big Buck's

After Big Buck's romped to his 14th successive victory in handing out an eight-length beating to Five Dream in the Grade 1 Lough Derg Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in mid-December, connections gave the impression that he was unlikely to be seen again prior to the defence of his crown at Cheltenham in March. But after giving the matter plenty of consideration since, Nicholls and Big Buck's owner Andy Stewart have decided on a change of plan and will give the nine-year-old a spin at Cheltenham in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle, a race they hope will keep the horse in peak condition as they know full well that he can be a difficult horse to get fit at home on the gallops. Those looking at the Betfair World Hurdle betting will be keeping a close eye on his preparations.

The January 28 contest is run over the World Hurdle course and distance, and though the son of Cadoudal will have to give away upwards of 8lbs to his rivals he is rated so far clear of the best of the rest of the horses in the staying division that most people believe the weight concession is unlikely to prove a barrier to the hugely popular hurdler extending his winning sequence to 15. Bookmakers rate Big Buck's a 4/7 favourite to retain his crown and achieve a feat unequalled in the long and exceptional history of the Cheltenham Festival.

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