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Big Buck's (left) - Cheltenham- Jan 1 2009

Big Buck's (left): plugged on well despite Ruby Walsh's concerns

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

Buck's sticks neck out to defeatDon't Push It

Report: Cheltenham, Thursday

Unicoin Homes Handicap Hurdle 3m

BIG BUCK'S responded to all of Ruby Walsh's urgings to capture an exciting renewal of the Unicoin Homes Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Thursday.

Although acknowledged by his jockey as not the most straightforward of rides, the 9-2 shot stuck his neck out when challenged by a persistent Don't Push It at the last flight and on the run-in, despite Walsh's concerns that he had "got there a bit soon".

The complexion of the race changed dramatically at the second-last flight when 15-8 favourite Ballydub, who was leading at the time, took a heavy fall, badly interfering with Blue Shark in the process, on which Barry Geraghty performed miracles to stay on board, albeit losing all chance.

Previouslongtime leader Buena Vista then set sail for home but was closley pursued by Tisfreetdream, Big Buck's and Don't Push It, the last-named pair drawing away towards the last - where Big Buck's took a look at the obstacle before jumping it - and then engaging in their own private battle on the run-in.

Alan King's well-backed Pennek stayed on to finish third at 8-1.

The winner and one-time Gold Cup fancy received a 20-1 quote from Victor Chandler for the World Hurdle in March.  Trainer Paul Nicholls reported that the Cleeve Hurdle is likely to be the next stop on his charge's agenda.

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