Big Buck's: record-breaking hurdler has won his last 18 startsPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Festival star Quevega World Hurdle favourite
FOUR-TIME Cheltenham Festival winner Quevega is now favourite for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle following the injury to Big Buck's - who was odds-on favourite for the race.
The racing world was on Monday night rocked by the shock news that Big Buck's, who would have been chasing a fifth World Hurdle crown, and his Paul Nicholls-trained stablemate Al Ferof had suffered tendon injuries and would miss the rest of the season.
Layers took their time to reform the World Hurdle market, but on Tuesday morning made Quevega favourite, although connections have often maintained her Cheltenham target would be the Grade 2 mares' race she has captured for the last four seasons.
That was, however, before Big Buck's was ruled out of the race. She is 3-1 with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power and 5-1 with Coral.
William Hill and bet365 also go 5-1, but have Oscar Whisky that price as well.
Other eyecatching names in the new market include Grands Crus, 7-1 with Coral, and Peddlers Cross, a general 8-1 chance.
Andy Stewart, who owns Big Buck's, said on Tuesday morning: "It's a tiny tear, very small. It will only get better with nature, there is no cure. Talking to Paul we'll put a line through the season.
"We think he'll be out for three to four months and that will take us past the World Hurdle. Then bringing him back for Aintree is something we wouldn't consider."
Speaking to At The Races, Stewart added: "I'm very gutted, very disappointed, but, as they say, it's a small earthquake - no-one's died."
Nicholls posted a new blog on Betfair just before noon on Tuesday in which he said Big Buck's might not return until next Christmas.
The champion trainer may still have some contenders for the World Hurdle.
"We have Wonderful Charm,Prospect Wells and perhaps even Tidal Bay to consider for that race," he wrote
"Wonderful Charm has had a breathing operation since winning at Chepstow, and I may even consider Tidal Bay for the Cleeve Hurdle after he runs in the Lexus. For sure, he has enough talent and versatility to make his presence felt in the World Hurdle, as well as the Gold Cup."