Bucks backed to shine on comeback
Andy Stewart says 'Team Big Buck's' are "pretty confident" the outstanding staying hurdler of the past decade can make a successful comeback to racing and stretch his winning sequence to 19 in Saturday's Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Sam Twiston-Davies, who schooled the 11-year-old at Ditcheat, told the owner: "He jumped like a peach. He's an amazing horse to sit aboard. He felt in great order."
Now, Stewart's biggest worry is the unknown.
"The race has been re-opened, so we could still discover a surprise entry in the final field. But, all going well, he should win," he said.
"Paul (Nicholls) has got him where he should be for a Cleeve Hurdle, but he has left something to work on before Cheltenham."
Saturday will be an important day for Stewart, Nicholls and Twiston-Davies. The owner admitted: "We're confident, but I'm very nervous. We want everything to go well.
"Sam has now ridden him three times at home, but never in a race. We have arranged for Sam to have discussions with Ruby Walsh and Tony McCoy, who both know the horse so well."
There is much at stake for Twiston-Davies, who is coming up fast through the ranks and looks certain to be snapped up for one of the biggest stables before long. Nicholls is a known admirer of the young rider's skills in the saddle and success on Big Buck's would enhance the jockey's reputation.
Meanwhile, Dual Cheltenham Festival hero Champagne Fever and Grade One winner Don Cossack are the headline acts among nine entries for the Boylesports.com Killiney Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Saturday.
The Willie Mullins-trained Champagne Fever was beaten by Defy Logic over two miles at Christmas and would be stepping back up in trip to two miles and five furlongs.
Mullins has several top-class options, including Felix Yonger, which was surprisingly beaten by stablemate The Paparrazi Kid at Limerick. Dessie Hughes has entered Bright New Dawn, while Noel Meade calls on Mullaghanoe River and Road To Riches.