Big Buck's: World Hurdle favourite now odds-on with all the firmsPICTURE: Getty Images
Big Buck's shortens after Voler La Vedette beaten
HE MAY not have set hoof outside of Ditcheat on Sunday but Cheltenham Festival banker Big Buck's shortened in the betting to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle for a record-breaking fifth time.
With Voler La Vedette finishing only third at Fairyhouse on Sunday afternoon, those bookmakers who were offering evens about star hurdler Big Buck's winning at the Festival fell in line with their rivals.
Both Paddy Power and William Hill went 4-5 (from evens) after the surprise below-par showing from Voler La Vedette.
Paddy Power said: "After Big Buck's casual drubbing of the opposition in Saturday's Long Distance Hurdle, Voler La Vedette was one of his main rivals, albeit a distant one, in the World Hurdle market.
"She rather fluffed her lines at Fairyhouse and although Zaidpour has thrown his hat in the ring, we had to cut Big Buck's as punters, including one backer who had €40,000 on him with us at 5-4 on Saturday, can only see one realistic winner."
Zaidpour's two-and-a-half-length win in the Grade 1 Hatton's Grace Hurdle means he is now as short as 12-1 with the sponsors for the World Hurdle and connections said afterwards that route is one that is open to him.
Our Conor emerged as the leading Irish challenger for the JCB Triumph Hurdle after winning the opening Grade 3 juvenile hurdle at Fairyhouse. After making it two from two over hurdles for Dessie Hughes, he was cut to no bigger than 16-1 to become the first Irish-trained winner of the Triumph Hurdle since 2002.
A third win in three starts over hurdles means that Jezki is 8-1 joint-favourite with the sponsors William Hill for the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
His success in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle saw Champagne Fever taste defeat for the first time since his bumper debut and bookmakers were left unsure what to make of his run. His odds range from 12-1 to 33-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, while he is as short as 14-1 for the RSA Chase and 10-1 for the Neptune Novices' Hurdle.
A sparkling front-running performance from Arvika Ligeonniere in the Grade 1 Drimore Novice Chase saw him emerge a as major contender for Cheltenham's top novice events in March.
Paddy Power immediately cut Willie Mullins' charge to 7-1 (from 16) for the Racing Post Arkle and 10-1 (from 20) for the RSA.