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Owner Simon Stewart terrified about Big Buck's comeback

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 22, 2014

Big Buck's

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Director of racing Simon Claisse is thrilled that the legendary Big Buck's will make his comeback from injury at Cheltenham – but owner Andy Stewart is "terrified".

The four-time World Hurdle winner will be the headline act on star-studded seven-race card on Festival Trials Day on Saturday.

Claisse said the presence of Big Buck's with jockey Sam Twiston-Davies aboard for the first time would add to the sense of anticipation about the fixture – the last one at Prestbury Park before the Festival gets under way on March 11.

"We tend to get smaller fields with these very high-class races, but we're happy enough with that because this is giving horse another opportunity to have experience around Cheltenham prior to the Festival," said Claisse.

"We're delighted and very excited to have Big Buck's back for a race that he's won twice.

"He's won 18 races in a row and that's a fantastic record.

"I think that for the lovers of National Hunt racing, to see a horse with such a record like that come back from injury will really add something to the afternoon."

Stewart has waited more than 12 months for Big Buck's to race again after he sustained a tendon injury following an easy victory at Newbury.

He admitted that nerves were getting the better of him with the return of his brilliant 11-year-old in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle now only days away.

Stewart said: "I'm not a little bit of a nervous owner, I'm a terrified nervous owner.

"He has been in the newspapers more than Simon Cowell recently.

"He's a people's horse and a lot of people will be rooting for him.

"It's a big responsibility. He doesn't know that, but I know that and I will be very nervous.

"Everything he has been doing at home, the racecourse gallop that he had and the work Sam Twiston-Davies has done on him, is saying to the experts that he could be back to the form he was in when he won the race at Newbury in a common canter.

"Nobody in Paul Nicholls' team is saying anything other than they think he'll run a pretty good race on Saturday. Let's hope so."

Meanwhile, Claisse said the track at Prestbury Park had withstood the battering that it took from the elements on New Year's Day and was ready to host racing again on Saturday.

He said rain was forecast for this week, but it wasn't expected to be as heavy as it was for the last meeting.

"The track stood up to the rain very well on January 1," he said. "I was surprised when I walked around the course the next day how well it had taken it.

"The course is currently a combination of soft and good-to-soft ground.

"In the forecast there is nothing like the rain we had on January 1 and not so windy either, or any frost. It's shaping up to be fantastic afternoon."

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