Cheltenham festival: Big Buck’s still the World champion

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BIG Buck’s made Ladbrokes World Hurdle history with a thrilling fourth successive victory in the stayers’ championship at Cheltenham.

The Andy Stewart-owned nine-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Ruby Walsh, had to work hard to ward off Voler La Vedette to take his winning streak over hurdles to 16. The 5-6 favourite battled on tremendously to win by a length and three-quarters from Voler La Vedette (20-1), with Smad Place (20-1) seven lengths away in third.

Walsh said: “He’s an amazing horse. We went a good gallop and sprinted off the bend when he got to the running rail. The way Paul’s horses had been running they were starting to doubt but boy this lad is good.

“I rode him much handier than last year - they were all speed horses, Thousand Stars, Oscar Whisky, So Young, but the only one that stayed was this lad. He’s just a great horse and thank God I ride him.”

Nicholls said: “I was getting a bit worried as we’d been totally out of form and out of luck since Rock On Ruby the other day, but this lad is all class.”

Earlier, Nicky Henderson’s quite incredible week continued as Riverside Theatre benefited from a magnificent Barry Geraghty ride to land the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham. Riverside Theatre, the 7-2 favourite part-owned by actor Jimmy Nesbitt, gave Geraghty everything he had to score by half a length.

Albertas Run ran a super race to fill the runner-up spot, with Medermit the same distance away in third.