03/15/2012 1:14PM

Cheltenham: Big Buck's wins 16th race in a row with fourth straight World Hurdle

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CHELTENHAM, England - The legend of Big Buck's continues to grow.

Thursday at Cheltenham Racecourse, the 9-year-old Big Buck's extended his winning streak to 16 races, scoring an unprecedented fourth consecutive victory in the World Hurdle, over three miles.

Ridden by Ruby Walsh for trainer Paul Nicholls, Big Buck's, the 5-6 favorite, raced behind the leaders for the first two miles, moved to the front about six furlongs from the finish, and led over the final two hurdles.

Voler La Vedette, an 8-year-old mare sent off at 20-1, got within a length of Big Buck's before the final hurdle, but could not catch the favorite, losing by 1 3/4 lengths. Smad Place, a 10-1 shot, finished third in the field of 11.

Big Buck's last lost in November 2008 when he was unseated in the prestigious Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury Racecourse. Thursday's win by Big Buck's equaled the number of consecutive wins by Sir Ken, a star hurdler from the early 1950s.

Owned by the Stewart family, Big Buck's has won 21 of 36 starts in a career that began in France in 2006. The World Hurdle carried a purse of approximately $405,600, and was worth $181,300 to the winner.

Big Buck's is expected to race at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool in early April, at the same three-day meeting as the Grand National. For the 2013 World Hurdle, Big Buck's is already as low as even money with British bookmakers.