Had Big Buck’s never appeared again after the 2008 Hennessy, we could only have speculated about his potential. But we have the advantage of three years’ of hindsight and from what he’s shown since, there must be a very strong chance he’d have won that Hennessy.
He was 5 at the time. He was rated 153 and carried 11.7. It wasn’t the highest quality renewal but it was truly run and he’d have been the first 5-y-o to win.
BB wasn’t a staying hurdler trying ‘chasing as a natural progression. His first seven runs in the UK were over fences. He ran just twice at 3m plus – beating Battlecry at Aintree, then that Hennessy unseat.
Returned to hurdles, at 3m, he gave Don’t Push It 16lbs to start his unbeaten run.
I think it’s possible that his early clumsiness over fences might well have been a combination of inexperience and things happening too quickly over too short a trip.
He doesn’t have Frankel’s charisma. There is nothing fancy or seductive about his style of running or winning though he is a fine looking individual and a very taking mover.
I’ve no doubt whatsoever he has the best engine in NH racing and think it’s a real shame that his trainer today ruled out any return to ‘chasing. Andy Stewart’s on record as saying the Gold Cup is his holy grail. He could live a hundred more lifetimes and he’ll never have a better chance of winning the Gold Cup than with Big Buck’s who could make half a dozen errors in an average GC and still win it, imo.
Finally, one of the expressions I used to mock and detest on the Betfair forum was ‘Free Money’. But Ladbrokes post-race 4/5 NRNB for the World Hurdle, was exactly that.