ANOTHER sparkling weekend of racing and Cheltenham Trials’ Day is today’s feature meeting with any number of horses putting their Festival credentials on the line notably the return of Big Buck’s (3.35) in the Cleeve Hurdle.
Now 11 years of age Big Buck’s has not met with defeat since unseating Sam Thomas in the 2008 Hennessy Gold Cup a run of eighteen successive victories back over timber although the last of them was back in December 2012 when thrashing one of today’s field Reve De Sivola by 9 lengths.
Sam Twiston-Davies takes over in the saddle for the first time today and the hope is that the 11-year old is not too rusty coming back from a 420-day lay-off.
At Fishers Cross has been a big disappointment in both starts so far this season and I’m not convinced the Rebecca Curtis yard are in the best of form and I think Irish raider Boston Bob can follow the selection home.
Big Buck’s is currently 2/1 with BetVictor for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and that price will contract if the four-time winner of the Cheltenham Stayers’ crown wins this afternoon.
Harry Topper has been given plenty of time to get over a dreadful run at Sandown on ground far too quick last month and he is a fascinating contender for the Argento Chase but Rocky Creek (2.25) ran a cracker on his seasonal reappearance when runner up in the Hennessy and can go one better.
The selection didn’t run particularly well on his sole previous start at Cheltenham but he has always threatened to make a decent chaser and soft ground is ideal.
Double Ross has been in excellent form of late winning two valuable handicaps but he has little in hand at the revised terms with Cedre Bleu (1.50) who can be yet another winner, I hope, on the card for the yard of Paul Nicholls.
The selection was outstayed at Ascot over 3m on his penultimate outing before going down to Double Ross over C&D but he is weighted to reverse the form on 6lbs better terms.
An excellent card at Doncaster and the mare Centasia would be of interest if the market spoke in her favour in the opener but Elmore Back (12.25) looks fairly treated for his handicap debut and ran an excellent race over C&D when runner up to a decent sort of Nicky Henderson’s last time.