Big Buck’s wrapped up this season just as he had the previous two with what jockey Ruby Walsh and trainer Paul Nicholls considered to be the finest performance of his career in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree.
Already the only horse to have won the World Hurdle at Cheltenham three times in a row, Big Buck’s can now boast the same record in this Grade One feature – and few would bet against him becoming the most decorated stayer of all time.
He had taken his unbeaten streak over timber to 11 three weeks earlier at the Festival when fighting off the latest pretender to his crown, Grands Crus, and any lingering hopes for David Pipe’s grey were crushed in unequivocal fashion as the champion coasted an effortless five lengths clear.
With a decent pace guaranteed by Knockara Beau, Tom Scudamore decided to stalk Walsh and the 4-6 favourite for as long as he could, asking Grands Crus for an effort when Big Buck’s was left in front turning for home.
But it proved a hopeless task as Walsh sat motionless alongside him, never having to get remotely serious.
Nicholls, who had revealed a worry about Big Buck’s the evening before the race, said: “There was a minor issue earlier in the week when he didn’t eat up, but the blood test was spot-on and he didn’t miss any work.
“It was the sort of thing we deal with training horses and the girl who rides him was happy with him.
“He was awesome today, probably as good as ever. Ruby said to me he felt the best he had ever been and I think that was probably his best performance.
“Dan (Skelton, assistant) just said to me that he’s the best horse we’ve ever had at Ditcheat and I’d have to agree. In terms of ability, I don’t think you can argue with it.
“On that form today it’s going to be a long while before he gets beat.
“He’ll have a nice summer holiday now and then he’ll go for the same four races next year (Long Distance and Long Walk Hurdles, Cheltenham and Aintree).
“There’s no point being greedy as if you look after him, he could be around like this for another two or three years and that’s good for racing. I wouldn’t think he’ll ever jump a fence again.”