BB’s aren’t usually something to get excited about (eh lads?) but this year’s World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival may be the exception.
All the talk at this ante-post stage is about the king of the staying hurdling division Big Buck’s, who is bidding for a fifth World Hurdle title.
Paul Nicholls’ superstar has been off the track since winning his 18th consecutive race at Ascot at the end of 2012 but such is his unrivalled ability as a racehorse, he still heads the World Hurdle betting at 5/2. Some will see that as Christmas come early, some, like me, will see it as complete madness.
We’ll probably know more about his well-being in the Cleeve Hurdle on January 25. Until then, our ante post focus has to lie elsewhere.
Our money is being plunged down on another BB. One who has yet to show his true potential as a stayer but loves the Cheltenham hill and is well overpriced at 11/1.
His name? Boston Bob.
This is a horse who was on our radar as a potential Gold Cup winner this season but trainer Willie Mullins has decided to give him a World Hurdle campaign in order to restore his confidence.
The nine-year-old was a Grade 1 winner as a novice over hurdles and fences, and a gallant runner-up to the ill-fated Brindisi Breeze in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle, but he ended last season with two falls, when leading at the last in the RSA Chase and at the Punchestown festival.
On both occasions, we’re of the opinion that if he stayed up he would have landed both events.
That run in the RSA Chase is hard to erase from our memory as he made an absolutely stonking move on the outside of the field at one stage with the look of a very good horse.
That move gave the impression that he’s not a one-pace horse and with his powerful staying powerful assured, his ability to act to maximum effect in a World Hurdle where the tempo is usually strong from the outset is a huge positive.
He’s had one run this season and everything looked very well the horse as he romped clear of a 135-rated horse without having to come off the bridle. There’s more to come from this highly-regarded maverick and he’s the one to be on at this stage.
Cheltenham ante post book:
2pts win West Wizard in Supreme Novices Hurdle 8/1
1pt EW Harry Topper in Gold Cup 50/1
2pts EW Corrin Wood in RSA Chase 16/1
1pt win Boston Bob in World Hurdle at 11/1