Paul Nicholls believes Big Buck’s is still as good as he has ever been after the record-breaking hurdler made it 18 straight victories at Newbury last Saturday.
The nine-year-old was a nine-length winner of the Long Distance Hurdle and remains unbeaten over the lower flights since Ditcheat trainer Nicholls made the decision to switch him from chasing in 2008.
The Stewart family-owned charge was sent off at his lowest price at 1-12 against just three rivals but, under the guidance of jockey Ruby Walsh, he proved far too good for runner-up Reve De Sivola and Fox Appeal in third.
A fifth consecutive World Hurdle crown at the Cheltenham Festival looks on the cards, with Nicholls confirming the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on December 22 as Big Buck’s next race.
“I think he’s as good as ever, he certainly looks better than at any time last year,” said Nicholls.
“He’s so professional now and whereas in the past you thought he might be the one to get himself beat he’s so relaxed and straightforward now.
“That will have put him spot-on for Ascot and all roads lead to Cheltenham.”
Victorious jockey Walsh added: “As soon as he gets to the races he switches on and he was awesome. He’s a bit of an oddball but they say that about all geniuses. He’s a brilliant horse.”
Meanwhile, Nicholls could only finish second in the big race of the day, with Tidal Bay finishing as runner-up behind Nicky Henderson’s Bobs Worth in the Hennessy Gold Cup at the same track.
“It was a cracking run; those second-season novices are just a bit ahead,” added Walsh.
“When I pinged the last I thought I had a chance, but I knew [Bobs Worth jockey] Barry [Geragthy] hadn’t gone for everything.”