Ladbroke World Hurdle – 12 February 2009

The last race for a selection for this year’s Festival and a seemingly straightforward one to analyse with the top three in the betting head and shoulders above the rest in terms of form. Of the big three the one who appeals most is Big Bucks. I have the good fortune to be on at 20/1 (and all prices down!) which I snapped up on New Year’s Day after his victory in the Unicorn Homes Hurdle. The best price is now 5/1 but this is still value in what I see as a three horse race. This is an each way ‘bet to nothing’ – that is, if he places you make a quarter point profit and if he wins you get 6.25 points.  I make him my best or NAP bet of the Festival.

Big Bucks is very much the most interesting horse in the race in that he has taken a highly unusual route of running in the Hennessy prior to becoming a top class hurdler and at age 6 and he remains completely unexposed. He could well be a Gold Cup horse in future so surely he should be backed here in a ‘three horse’ hurdle race? The Hennessy proved he has class in abundance and I have no doubt he would have won if not falling at the last. There has been plenty of comment that Big Bucks won’t be suited by good ground but his trainer Paul Nicholls thinks he will actually improve on it and I don’t see why not either. So whether soft or good he shouldn’t have a problem with the ground.
Having a great careet record of winning of 7 of his 22 races, Big Bucks goes into this race in top form having followed up the New Year’s Day victory with another win at Cheltenham in the Cleeve Hurdle, a good trial for the World Hurdle. He has a running style which is great to watch and his jockey Ruby Walsh with his ‘creep creep’ style is an ideal partner. On his two races at Cheltenham he has stalked the leaders then overtaken them and run on up the hill when it mattered. Let’s hope he does this to Kassbah Bliss and Punchestowns on the big day.
What of these two main rivals? Kasbah Bliss needs a run before the Festival and is unraced since his second in the World Hurdle last year. He is due to run at Haydock on Saturday and if he flops then Big Bucks price will contract further. Punchestowns has been on the up all season but I just wonder if we might have seen the best of him. 
Take the 5/1 on Big Bucks with William Hills which is guaranteed. If he starts at a bigger price on the day and wins or places you’ll be paid out even bigger bucks!
Good luck if you follow any of my selections.