Big Buck's makes his eagerly-awaited return from injury in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham. Timeform assess the field...
"Big Buck's may have a little to prove after an injury-induced absence but he couldn't be in better hands..."
Big Buck's is unbeaten in 18 starts over hurdles in Britain, including 4 World Hurdles. Sidelined by injury since latest win at Newbury in December 2012, but hard to beat if old ability remains intact.
Reve de Sivola took this event last term and landed Group 1 Grand Prix d'Automne at Auteuil on return. Back to best when winning Long Walk at Ascot last month, but needs Big Buck's to misfire to follow up.
At Fishers Cross won Albert Bartlett over C&D in unbeaten novice season, but been let down by jumping on both starts this term (behind Reve de Sivola at Ascot last time). Cheekpieces reached for, and bit to prove now.
Boston Bob's sole defeat over hurdles came when second in C&D Albert Bartlett in 2012, and impressed on return to this sphere at Punchestown last month. Ought to have more to offer, and folly to dismiss.
Knockara Beau is better known for chase exploits, but something of a regular in this event, finishing second to Grands Crus in 2011, and fourth behind Reve de Sivola last year. Minor place his best hope again.
Quartz de Thaix lost his way after winning twice over fences in November 2012. Fitting of blinkers saw him back on track in a C&D handicap hurdle on New Year's Day, but much more needed in such exalted company.
1. Big Buck's
2. Reve de Sivola
3. Boston Bob
Timeform Verdict: Big Buck's may have a little to prove after an injury-induced absence but he couldn't be in better hands, and can dispose of old rival Reve de Sivola. Boston Bob is readily preferred to At Fishers Cross for minor honours.
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