Big Buck's romps home to win World Hurdle at Cheltenham
Cheltenham Festival Venue: Prestbury Park Date: 16-19 March Coverage: Live text commentary and daily reports on BBC Sport website & mobiles. Live daily coverage on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra (1300-1400) and 5 live (1400-1600) and television coverage on Channel 4 (1230-1615)
Ruby Walsh eases Big Buck's past Time For Rupert at the last in the World Hurdle
Hot favourite Big Buck's won his second successive World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday.
Paul Nicholls' seven-year-old had won his last six starts and was priced at 5-6, the shortest of the week.
Jockey Ruby Walsh made his move after the final hurdle and soon left 16-1 shot Time For Rupert in his wake. Powerstation, a 33-1 chance, was third.
Big Buck's has already been installed as an even-money favourite for next year's three-mile feature.
Walsh said: "He's a special horse. He's absolutely bolted in. He's got a terrific engine and that was a good round of jumping, he jumped better today than he ever has done."
Nicholls added: "He's a hugely talented horse. I worked the horses on Saturday morning - Poquelin, Master Minded, Kauto Star, the lot. They all worked well but he worked like a hairy goat.
"That's just him and I lost confidence a bit and I was sweating beforehand. He never hit a flat spot today. We were keen to get him fresh and you have to get into his head a bit more than anything. He's very good."
War Of Attrition made most of the running but Time For Rupert, ridden by Will Kennedy, took over turning into the straight.
However, Walsh was travelling ominously well, and the Festival's most successful ever jockey pushed Big Buck's out with hands and heels for a three-and-a-quarter-length win.
Walsh's win made him the toast of punters, as it was the third time this week the Irishman has scored on a well-backed favourite.
For champion trainer Nicholls, victory made up for the disappointment of heavy favourite Master Minded being beaten in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday.
Nicholls saddles hot favourite Kauto Star and second favourite Denman in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.
Jonjo O'Neill's Albertas Run landed his second Cheltenham Festival victory as he claimed the Ryanair Chase in impressive style.
Winner of the RSA Chase two years ago, Albertas Run, a 14-1 chance, was always prominent under champion jockey Tony McCoy as Deep Purple helped set the pace.
Walsh had him in his sights on 11-4 favourite Poquelin turning into the straight, but McCoy kicked on again approaching the last to win by four-and-a-half lengths.
J'y Vole, ridden by Davy Condon, narrowly lost out in the battle for second to Poquelin but defied her long odds with a big run.
Condon was consequently slapped with a four-day ban for impeding Walsh down the straight, but the result remained unaltered despite the enquiry.
It was not all plain-sailing for McCoy, however, as he also had two falls, in the first race of the day and again in the penultimate race, meaning he will face the doctor on Friday.
Copper Bleu went a few places better than last year as he won an eventful Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase, the first race on day three.
There were plenty of casualties throughout the two-mile-five-furlong contest, but Richard Johnson weaved his way through the field to lead at the final fence on the 12-1 shot.
However, he began to idle a little in front and had a good look around which enabled Paddy Brennan to have another go on runner-up Othermix.
The pair crossed paths on the run-in, but Johnson showed his strength to galvanise his mount once more and win by three-and-a-half lengths.
Trainer David Pipe collected a big-price double through Buena Vista (16-1) and Great Endeavour (18-1), while Donald McCain, successful with Peddlers Cross on Wednesday, produced the Trevor Hemmings-owned Ballabriggs (9-1) to put up an immaculate jumping display in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup under amateur Richard Harding.
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