Big Buck’s cashes in at Aintree to extend his winning streak

THE imperious Big Buck’s extended his winning streak to 12 races with, arguably, a career best performance that saw day one of the Grand National meeting start with a fizz.

He simply oozed class as he pulled clear, with effortless ease, from Grands Crus – racing’s rising star – who took up the running with a bold turn of speed on the home turn in the Liverpool Hurdle.

It took a special horse to beat Tom Scudamore’s aggressive tactics on the eventual runner-up Grands Crus – and Paul Nicholls, the champion trainer, ventured to suggest that Big Buck’s is the best horse he has ever trained.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The eight-year-old, he said, will not revert to steeplechase fences and will attempt, after a summer break, to win an unprecedented fourth successive Ladbrokes World Hurdle next year.

Big Buck’s, owned by racing benefactor Andy Stewart, is as short as 5-1 to finish the remainder of his career unbeaten – enticing odds given the emphatic manner of this victory under in-form Ruby Walsh.

Nicholls, who revealed that Big Buck’s had been off his food earlier in the week, said: “He was awesome today, probably as good as ever.

“I think that was probably his best performance. Dan (Skelton, assistant) just said to me that he’s the best horse we’ve ever had at Ditcheat and I’d have to agree. On that form today it’s going to be a long while before he gets beat.”

David Pipe, the trainer of Grands Crus, was typically dignified in defeat. “We were beaten by the best horse in racing. We can’t complain, because the winner was amazing,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll be novice chasing next year now and at least Big Buck’s won’t be there!”

However, Nicholls will surely regret running the talismanic Denman in the Totesport Bowl.

A distant fifth to Nacarat, last year’s Charlie Hall Chase winner, the veteran is clearly best when fresh and this contest came too soon after his Gold Cup second. The grey Nacarat’s win was a boost for winning jockey Paddy Brennan who split from Nigel Twiston-Davies’s stable last Friday to go freelance.

One factor in Brennan’s decision was the emergence of the trainer’s teenage sons Sam and 16-year-old Willie, the latter atoning for his Cheltenham heartbreak by winning the Foxhunters’ Chase over the National fences on recent Wetherby winner Baby Run.

Meanwhile Jason Maguire faces an uanxious wait to discover he can ride Ballabriggs in the National after John Quinn’s Palawai fell in the juvenile hurdle which Walsh won on the Cheltenham Festival winner Zarkandar. Maguire gave up his remaining rides with a suspected wrist injury.