Tote Win: £1.80 Tote Place: £1.10,1.90,2.10
Straight Forecast: £3.74 Exacta: £4.50 Trifecta: £11.10 Swingers: 1&2:1.60 2&3:4.70 1&3:3.30
Jackpot: £157,074.84 carried forward to Cheltenham, 18th Mar
Placepot: £219.20, Pool: £902226.06, 3003.34 winning tickets
Quadpot: £25.60, Pool: £38127.21, 1101.17 winning tickets
History was made here as BIG BUCK'S became the first horse to win three consecutive World Hurdles. With stablemate Celestial Halo a non-runner due to the ground, there was always a danger that there would be no pace on and that duly occurred. Rather surprisingly Cross Kennon was sent through to lead (at a crawl), and not much happened for the opening two and a half miles. Heading to the top of the hill and the race started to develop, mainly because the leader was a bit hesitant at some of his hurdles. Meanwhile Big Buck's, who had raced in second, third or fourth throughout, jumped so well that he was almost in the lead. As they started to freewheel down the hill, one wondered whether there would be good enough horses to give Nicholls' star a lead for long enough. Ultimately Walsh had to kick on with him, but round the home turn he was being stalked by Grands Crus, Mourad and Fiveforthree. Whilst Cross Kennon rallied gamely, the race developed into a shoot-out between Big Buck's and Grands Crus approaching the last. Ruby Walsh dropped his whip, but that didn't matter as when the winner got a glimpse of his grey rival, he sped away again. If you watched this live, count yourself fortunate, for this was one of the best performances seen over hurdles. If you just watch the video, then you're still pretty lucky. The runner-up is unfortunate in that he has come up against one of the true greats. He settled quite nicely early on considering the slow pace, was then a little keen passing the stands, before creeping into the race under a patient Tom Scudamore. This was a very good run, and the six-year-old's time will undoubtedly come (assuming he stays over hurdles), although you'd have to assume it will be when Big Buck's has moved on. Mourad had every chance turning in, but was made to look a little one-paced by the first two. His form has taken a step up this year since being moved up in trip, and, like Grands Crus, he has many years ahead of him. Cross Kennon is normally held-up, so this was a change of tactics. He was a little keen under restraint around half-way, and his jumping suffered as a result, but he really battled on from the home turn and was unlucky not to pick up a place. He ran a career-best here, although his mark means that future engagements will have to be in this sort of grade rather than handicaps. Rigour Back Bob belied his odds by storming up the hill for a never-nearer fifth. Experts may point to him holding down the form somewhat, and to a point that view have some merit, but it was probably just because the race was so slowly-run that he finished where he did. Berties Dream rallied in the final two furlongs; he could have done with a stronger pace, or perhaps trying to kick on for home a little earlier than he did. Any Given Day was outpaced when the race tempo quickened but he stayed on well up the hill, to finish just ahead of Fiveforthree who travelled well but just found things too hot from the turn-in.