The publication of the Anglo-Irish Jumps Classifications yesterday confirmed that there are currently two horses in training in desperate need of serious opposition if we are to learn how good they are, one from each code of the sport.
We’ve previously looked at the case of Frankel, and how there’s nothing around that come within a (metaphorical) mile of him at an actual mile. We’ve also concluded that there’s little prospect of him stepping back to seven furlongs, a distance where a clash with Black Caviar could well be the one racing opportunity to see him fully tested.
So which horse has a similar domination in the jumps world? Step forward Big Buck’s. He’s come top of the hurdles class for the fourth successive season, each time achieving a mark of 174. This season that puts him four clear of Champion hurdle winners Rock On ruby and Hurricane Fly, who are both on 170.
Handicapper Martin Greenwood clearly thinks Big Buck’s could achieve a higher rating, but can’t see an opportunity arising for him to up his mark. He says, “I would love a horse to give him a proper race as I think he’s capable of bettering 174, but we are so short of credible challengers it may never happen.”
Greenwood acknowledged that Big Buck’s, unbeaten now in 17 races, doesn’t usually run to that level, and indeed, may not have done so this season. Greenwood said, “His best effort on paper was probably at Cheltenham in January against Dynaste, where he ran to a minimum mark of 172. In the World Hurdle, in which he his usually visually less impressive than at Aintree, I had him running to 166, but there is no obvious reason to think he was any worse than before. I certainly wouldn’t have been comfortable dropping him.”
With Quevega having her own Cheltenham Festival record to maintain in the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle and last year’s top novice hurdler Simonsig likely to go chasing we look destined to go another year without finding out just how good Big Buck’s really is.