RUBY Walsh and Big Buck’s are a brilliant partnership – they have won eight of their nine races together and all six over hurdles. Andy Stewart’s seven-year-old has been a revelation since reverting to the smaller obstacles and that’s why William Hill are offering just 4/7 that he wins back-to-back World Hurdles this afternoon.
However, there’s also no doubt that he’s a complicated ride. Ruby has mastered the stalking approach with him and you had to feel for Barry Geraghty and Punchestowns last season when they were outgunned twice up the Cheltenham hill. Yet, I have the niggling feeling that there are a host of horses in the field who have the ability to shake him up and I would far rather be a layer on Betdaq than a backer.
Big Buck’s runs in snatches and although many in-running punters will be aware of this, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his price go odds-against if Ruby is pushing along at the top of the hill. That normally acts as the horse’s wake-up call and he will undoubtedly trade very short up the home straight.
The two horses that interest me most are former Champion Hurdler KATCHIT and Irish raider POWERSTATION. The former is apparently in rude health at home and Alan King feels that he is in the best form he has been in for two years. He can be backed at 20/1 with Paddy Power, but I’d far rather take the 16/1 available each-way with Ladbrokes about him without Big Buck’s. If he stays the three miles, he surely won’t be far away on this ground.
As for Powerstation, there aren’t many horses with a better record at the Festival. He has been placed on all three of his previous visits here including when finishing a gallant third in this 12 months ago. He has been in decent form at home and I expect him to be ridden for a place again. He can be backed at nearly 60/1 on Betdaq, but I will be backing him without Big Buck’s each-way at 16/1. I’m not sure he is good enough to beat the favourite, but I’m sure he’ll be there or thereabouts at the business end.
Finally, the one horse I really don’t fancy is Alan King’s Karabak. He has some useful form in the book and many feel he is the most likely to chase Big Buck’s home. However, he has drifted in the betting recently and hasn’t apparently been working that well. He can be layed in the place market on Betdaq at around 2.6 which looks decent value.