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Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Thursday, 17 March 2011

Cheltenham: Big Buck's lands third World Hurdle win

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL Tue 15-Fri 18 March
Coverage: BBC Radio 5 live Thur 1400-1600, Fri 1300-1600, Channel 4 TV/Racing UK
Reports and results: BBC Sport website
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Ruby Walsh on Big Buck's
Big Buck's has been unbeatable in the World Hurdle over the past three years

The odds-on favourite Big Buck's has made history with a third consecutive win in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham.

It was a superb performance by the 10-11 chance who becomes the first horse to claim three wins in a row.

Jockey Ruby Walsh kept his mount handily placed all the way through what was a steadily run race.

Once he took the lead on the run-in, he powered home to hold off the challenge of rising star Grands Crus (7-2) and Irish challenger Mourad (8-1) to win.

Cross Kennon took the field along through the early stages and was still in front turning into the straight but Walsh was the first to commit on Big Buck's.

Fiveforthree and Mourad also briefly looked dangerous but it was Grands Crus, ridden by Tom Scudamore and trained by David Pipe, who emerged as his biggest danger - only for Big Buck's to find more up the hill and win by a length and three-quarters.

Walsh said: "He's an aeroplane but I made a bad mistake as I dropped my stick halfway to the last hurdle.

"It was my own fault as I was trying to see where the others were behind me so I was only half-watching what I was doing.

"I knew I had loads of horse left but I knew it was going to be tactical and that Grands Crus was going to try to follow me.

"This horse has matured so much mentally you can stretch him in front and he has dug deep. He's a wonderful horse and he's got me out of trouble."

Trainer Paul Nicholls hailed the performance of Big Buck's as his career best.

"We were a bit worried about the ground and that they weren't going to go a gallop," he said.

"We knew pretty well what Grands Crus was going to do. We just improvised a little bit. I was nervous as he hasn't run on that ground. He wins by staying and class is what he's got.

"David [Pipe] was the first to shake my hand. He's a great fellow. The best horse won on the day but it was an awesome performance by both horses."

Tony McCoy on Albertas Run
Tony McCoy negotiates the last fence in the Ryanair Chase on Albertas Run

Earlier Albertas Run displayed a dramatic return to form with a second consecutive Ryanair Chase win under 15-times champion jockey Tony McCoy.

Trainer Jonjo O'Neill's horses have not enjoyed the best of fortunes but the 6-1 chance blossomed on his return to Cheltenham to beat Kalahari King by a length with Rubi Light back in third.

The favourite Poquelin looked out of sorts a long way out but although he briefly rallied on the home straight, he faded again.

It was a second win of the day for McCoy who earlier guided Noble Prince to victory in the Jewson Novices Chase for Irish trainer Paul Nolan.

McCoy said: "I'm beginning to feel like Ruby Walsh having ridden two winners here.

"Jonjo has been really sweet on him in the last week or so but Trevor [Hemmings, owner] was really keen on running him in the Gold Cup. Thankfully Jonjo twisted his arm.

"This was the right race for him. He won it last year and has now won four Grade Ones."

O'Neill said: "That was special, he absolutely loves this ground and he's a much better horse on it.

"He's had a few problems along the way this season but he just started to come right in the last few weeks.

"He just comes alive this time of year, the sun is shining and the gods are shining on us."

Buena Vista made it back-to-back wins in the Pertemps Final with the 20-1 shot leading from start to finish under claimer Conor O'Farrell.

O'Farrell's mount travelled and jumped superbly and was never troubled at the head of the field to give him his first Festival win and trainer David Pipe another success.

Pipe later completed a double when the 100-30 favourite Junior claimed an easy win in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.

The trainer thought the Royal Ascot winner was his best chance of the meeting and the horse powered clear under Jamie Codd to score by 24 lengths.

Faasel, a stable-mate of the winner, ran on to be second to fill the same spot as he did 12 months ago, while Deal Done hung on for third from Galaxy Rock.

Holmwood Legend sprang a 25-1 surprise to lift the Byrne Group Plate for trainer Pat Rodford and 3lb claimer Keiran Burke.

The winning combination had finished second to Quevega with Sparky May on Tuesday and went one better with the 10-year-old, who had too much fire-power for the opposition.

Somerset-based Rodford is due to retire this spring when he will hand over the reins to Burke.

Meanwhile, broadcaster Lorna Fowler, the sister of jockey Mark Bradburne triumphed on the Henry Cecil-trained Plato in the day's closing race, the St Patrick's Day Derby - a charity race in aid of Cancer Research UK.



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see also
Cheltenham Festival - as it happened
17 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
McCoy passes 200 season winners
17 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Cheltenham images
18 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Sizing Europe wins Champion Chase
16 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Hurricane Fly takes Hurdle glory
15 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Big Buck's makes it 10 at Newbury
29 Dec 10 |  Horse Racing
Cheltenham Festival 2011 schedule
23 Feb 11 |  Horse Racing
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
Long Run clinches Gold Cup glory
18 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Binocular withdrawn from Hurdle
13 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing


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