Annie Power-less To Repel Challenge Of More Of That In World Hurdle

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Tagged under: 3.20 Ladbrokes World Hurdle 3m (Grade1)

It's always sad when retirement looms for a great horse and that was the case at Cheltenham this afternoon with the news that four-time World Hurdle winner Big Buck's has run his last race after finishing a well beaten fifth in the Ladbroke-sponsored Grade 1 contest, failing to show the kind of form that had amassed an unbeaten run of 18 races between January 2009 and December 2012.

The race was billed as a showdown between the old champion and the Willie Mullins-trained mare Annie Power, unbeaten in all her ten starts to date and tipped for future stardom at the highest level. Sent off the 11-8 favourite the mount of Ruby Walsh travelled and jumped well and looked all over the winner when challenging in between the JP McManus-owned pair of At Fishers Cross and More Of That approaching the final flight, at which stage age had finally caught up with the toiling Big Buck's, but it was Jonjo O'Neill's lightly-raced 6-year-old son of Beneficial who was proving stubborn resistance to the mare.

Finding the greater reserves of stamina in the closing stages Barry Geraghty drove his mount home to record a length and a half victory at odds of 15-2, making it five from five wins in the process. As short as 5-2 to follow up in 12 month's time it is hard to see, bar injury, anything troubling More Of That on the form he showed today and for an inexperienced horse there could even be more improvement to come.

With the retirement of Big Buck's it is a case of the king is dead - long live the king. More Of That may never reign as supremely as his predecessor but it will be a surprise if there are not many more day's of glory over the year's ahead for the new kid on the block.

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