Big Buck's went off at 1-2 on at Newbury - and the favourite did not disappoint
Favourite Big Buck's powered to victory in the Long Walk Hurdle at Newbury.
Ruby Walsh guided the 1-2 shot, trained by Paul Nicholls, home by three-and-a-half lengths from Karabak in second, with Diamond Harry third.
Big Buck's hardened as favourite to defend his World Hurdle crown at Cheltenham after seeing off his main rival Diamond Harry with minimal fuss.
The win completed a big-race double for Nicholls after stablemate What a Friend landed the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.
Lough Derg took on the early running in the Newbury gloom but a mistake at the fourth flight ended the race early for Tom Scudamore's mount.
The main protagonists settled in behind the leaders for the 3m ½f trip, with neither Big Buck's or Diamond Harry needing to show their hand until the final flight.
Walsh then upped the pace and Big Buck's moved clear of his opponents to seal victory.
Tony McCoy split the big two on Karabak to grab second place with Timmy Murphy guiding Diamond Harry home in third.
The race, originally scheduled for Ascot, was postponed due to frost earlier this month.
Long Walk Hurdle 3m ½f, Newbury
1 Big Buck's (Paul Nicholls) Ruby Walsh 1-2
2 Karabak 14-1
3 Diamond Harry 11-4
Dist: 3 1/2 - 2 3/4. 8 ran