Clearly the 2012 Cheltenham Festival isn’t exactly going according to plan for jockey Ruby Walsh and by now, I’m sure he would have anticipated that the Top Jockey armband would be on him and not current leader and fellow jockey, Barry Geraghty – who, by the way, is having the festival of his life.
But could Walsh’s luck be about to change? Putting Hurricane Fly behind him, he steps up today with history making on the mind. Having paid tribute to Big Buck’s staying power, he is aiming for a record fourth Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
The Paul Nicholls-trained star, who is currently 4/6 odds on favourite with Paddy Power is looking to land a historic 16th consecutive victory but must fend off threats from Oscar Whisky from the in-form Nicky Henderson yard and Thousand Stars in the day three highlight.
Walsh said: “I’ve a lot of respect for Oscar Whisky. It’s a different race, new opposition and I’m looking forward to it.”
Walsh told Channel 4’s Morning Line: “Most of those horses have looked like two-and-a-half mile horses. They’ll have plenty of toe. Whether they get the full three miles or not I don’t know. I know my horse stays forever. We’ll see what happens.”
As there is absolutely no value in backing Big Bucks at this stage, I’d be looking elsewhere to put my money. As a complete outsider, and many would call me crazy, Mourad is at 33/1 and is a high-class staying hurdler at his best, as was third to Big Buck’s in the World Hurdle last year. He appears to be back to something like his very best when winning Grade 2 at Navan last time but he will be doing well to match last year’s placing in more competitive renewal this time. Another Willie Mullins horse and I picked him for the family competition as Katie Walsh will be riding him.