03/13/2012 12:04PM

Cheltenham: Big Buck's puts streak on line in World Hurdle


CHELTENHAM, England – Watch out Black Caviar. There is a 9-year-old gelding in England closing in on your winning streak.

Black Caviar, the Australian-based sprinter, is unbeaten in 19 races.

Thursday at Cheltenham Racecourse, Big Buck’s will attempt to win his 16th consecutive race over jumps in the World Hurdle, run over three miles.

Big Buck’s winning streak began on Jan. 1, 2009, and includes the last three runnings of the World Hurdle. He is such a standout that he was a 1-2 shot with bookmakers as of Tuesday.

Trained by national leader Paul Nicholls, Big Buck’s will be ridden by regular rider Ruby Walsh and is part of a field of 13 on Thursday.

Already this year, Big Buck’s has won at Cheltenham, in a Grade 2 race over three miles in late January.

Imported from France in 2007, Big Buck’s began his English career in steeplechases, over tougher fences, and was switched to hurdles after unseating his jockey in November 2008.

The Nicholls stable pulled an upset in Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle over two miles with Rock On Ruby, an 11-1 shot.

Ridden by Noel Fehily, Rock On Ruby caught pacesetter Overturn with the last of eight hurdles to jump and won by 3 1/4 lengths. Hurricane Fly, the defending champion and 4-5 favorite, closed from seventh in a field of 10 to finish third, beaten five lengths by the winner.

Rock On Ruby is a 7-year-old Irish-bred gelding by Oscar, who has won 6 of 11 starts. The Champion Hurdle had a purse of approximately $581,000 and was worth $330,820 to the partnership that owns Rock On Ruby.

◗ Earlier on the seven-race program, Sprinter Sacre, a 6-year-old gelding, won for the eighth time in his 10-race career in the Arkle Chase over two miles for novice chasers. He is considered a candidate for the 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase, which is the main race on the Wednesday.

For this year’s Queen Mother, defending champion Sizing Europe is a 5-6 shot with bookmakers against seven rivals.