Cheltenham Festival Diary: Big Buck's hopes to win in yellow

 

David Beckham had DB. Cristiano Ronaldo has CR7. And Big Buck's, as befits his equine status, will have BB4 emblazoned on his bright yellow shoes as he bids to win a fifth World Hurdle title on Thursday afternoon.

The Betfair-sponsored racing plates, made from the latest in lightweight aluminium, also feature 12 stripes for each of the hurdles jumped and 4,828 spots, one for every metre of the race.

Trainer Paul Nicholls said: "Football fans are kitted out with the latest fancy footwear before every World Cup so why should it be any different for a racing superstar like Big Buck's at the Cheltenham Festival?"

Even AP can pick the wrong horse

You would think the best jockeys would know which horse to pick when given the choice, but it's amazing how often they get it wrong.

Even A P McCoy makes the odd wrong call, most recently when going for Champion Hurdle runner-up, My Tent Or Yours, instead of the winner, Jezki.

McCoy has elected to ride At Fishers Cross in Thursday's World Hurdle, but it was another tricky choice between two J P McManus-owned horses with roughly equal ability and punters should certainly not write off his reject, More Of That, who, like Jezki, will be partnered by Barry Geraghty.

Curtis leads the Welsh charge

Never mind the Irish, it was a great Wednesday for Wales with O'Faolains Boy winning the RSA Chase for Newport trainer Rebecca Curtis, and Whisper carrying the colours of Ffos Las racecourse owner Dai Walters to victory in the Coral Cup. This was the first Festival winner for Walters and he is optimistic of adding a quick second with Oscar Whisky in Thursday's opener.

I lost again, Get Me Out of Here

There are some horses, like Quevega, who would seem destined never to lose at Cheltenham; even when they are in trouble they somehow find a way to win. For others, it is just never meant to be. Get Me Out Of Here finished second for the fourth time at the Festival, the third time in a photo finish, leaving his normally unflappable trainer, Jonjo O'Neill, fit to spit.

"He loves the place and he loves the ground, but he just keeps finding one to beat him," said O'Neill.

King might not reign at Aintree

Trainer Philip Hobbs warns that Balthazar King, 33-1 for the Grand National after winning the Cross Country Chase for the second time, will not run at Aintree if the ground is soft.

Punters zig-zag through the hype

One of the buzz phrases on the Stock Exchange is that when everybody else zigs, you zag. It's not a bad position to take as a racing punter either and those going against the flow over the first two days at Cheltenham have had some joy.

True, the ziggers, following all the favourites, have been in the money with Vautour, Quevega and Faugheen, but the zaggers have struck back with the likes of Western Warhorse, Jezki and O'Faolains Boy, who were all barely mentioned in the pre-race hype before winning.

The World Hurdle zigs: Annie Power and Big Buck's. The zags? Everything else.

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