So, should I lump on Big Buck’s given his relatively high odds, or are the odds an accurate reflection of his chances? While I am a follower of national hunt racing, no one will, or should, ever mistake me for an expert on the sport.
I guess it comes down to how one reads his performance last Saturday. To me, it depends on what was the objective of his trainer, Paul Nicholls. If the objective was to win the race, the easiest thing would have been to sit behind the leader and then strike for home when turning into the straight. This may have led to a different result. However, by doing just enough to win the race, Nicholls may not have learned as much about the true condition of the horse. Winning may have suggested that all was well, which may have affected Nicholls’ training plans, and the horse’s true condition may not have been discovered until March, at which point it may have been too late.
On the other hand, Nicholls may have wanted to give Big Buck’s as stern a test as possible, and was prepared to risk losing the race in order to get a better picture of how fit his horse was. Nicholls’ statements after the race (see here) would, on the face of it, seem to back this up. Given his performance, it is to be expected that Big Buck’s will improve for the run and will be in much better condition with another six weeks of preparation. Having said that, if he has no race prior to Cheltenham, fans will be wary of the dreaded ‘bounce’, where a horse returning after a long lay-off
produces a poor second effort following a promising return.
Given how well he travelled for the vast majority of the race, I think odds of 11/5 and 9/4 are very attractive for a horse of Big Buck’s class. An ante-post bet is very likely.