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Aintree

  • 14:00 John Smith's Liverpool Hurdle 3m 110y

  • (grade 2) £100,000 added 4yo+ 10 ran
  • Winner: £
  • Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 6m 13.20s
  • Off time: 14:00:14

Buck'S Completes Big Double

Last Updated: 02/04/09 5:03pm

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Big Buck's powers to victory.

Big Buck's powers to victory.

Big Buck's was confirmed as the new staying king as he denied Mighty Man a third victory in the John Smith's Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree.

Paul Nicholls' quirky six-year-old picked up the baton from the now-retired Inglis Drever when landing the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and continued the winning run under Ruby Walsh.

A final-fence blunder in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup made connections consider a switch to the smaller obstacles - and the move has paid off with four consecutive victories.

The 5-6 favourite was given his usual patient ride, and Walsh kept him covered up between runners until pouncing on the Henry Daly-trained Mighty Man over the final flight.

Big Buck's took advantage of his rival's mistake at that point and kept on best of all for a three-and-a-quarter-length victory.

The winner was left unchanged by the sponsors at 3-1 for a repeat win in the World Hurdle next March.

Nicholls confirmed Andy Stewart's representative will stay over hurdles rather than returning to the larger obstacles.

"Ruby knows the horse, and said to me that going to the last he knew he would win, but didn't want to get there too soon," said the Ditcheat handler.

"You know he is always going to pick up and you couldn't have a better man riding him.

"The other horse made a mistake and he pricked his ears, so you have to go and make his mind up a little bit.

"It was the same at Cheltenham - he pricked his ears and had the job done easily.

"All credit to Henry as he has done an amazing job to get his horse back in that shape, and he has run a blinder.

"He won't go chasing now for the foreseeable future. He looks the best around over hurdles so he might as well stay there. He will have an entry for Punchestown and it is a possible but it will be totally ground dependant.

"If the ground is right he could go as there is nothing much for him before Christmas.

"You wouldn't want to run him in the Long Walk as he doesn't want to go right-handed and we won't be in a hurry to do too much with him before the spring."

Walsh added: "He is a very good horse and has a lot of class. He was a tad free early on but he soon switched off.

"I was going by Tony McCoy turning in and said to him I didn't know how well we were going as Richard Johnson (on Mighty Man) was travelling well in front.

"As we straightened up I went for a gap and he just came alive."

Mighty Man won the race in 2006 and 2007, having also scored at the Merseyside track's Grand National meeting as a novice.

An injury sustained at the Punchestown Festival kept him off the course until last month when he finished an honourable fifth to Big Buck's.

Daly said: "The mistake he made at the last was completely irrelevant. I think Paul's horse would have won anyway.

"I am delighted with him, Richard said it was a pity - it's the first mistake he's made in five years.

"He's just got beaten by a very good horse.

"He may go for the Long Distance Hurdle at Haydock (May 9) now - we will have to see."

Fair Along showed up much better than he had done in the World Hurdle and finished third.

His trainer, Philip Hobbs, said: "He ran a great race and I'm very pleased with him.

"I don't know what happened at Cheltenham.

"It may have been a breathing problem although we have no real evidence of that. We put a tongue-tie on today.

"I hope he will go to Punchestown now - Rhys (Flint) rode him very well."

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