Champion trainer Paul Nicholls declared himself ‘devastated’ on Monday evening when he heard the news that stable stars Big Bucks and Al Ferof are quite possibly out for the season, which completely scuppers the World Hurdle market; a race that Bucks has dominated for 4 years.
Both horses were found to be suffering from leg problems, but full details were not permitted by the general public last night when Paul Nicholls announced the shocking news.
“At evening stables tonight we discovered a problem with Big Buck’s and Al Ferof.
“I am not in a position to go into great detail at this point but I can confirm Big Buck’s will not be taking up his engagement at Ascot on Saturday and Al Ferof will not be running in the King George. And both are unlikely to run again this season.”
Nicholls then went on to say he wants no further contact with the media until he approaches them with more news; a sign that he is deeply upset and angered by the situation.
Big Bucks has become a main attraction at Cheltenham, etching his name on the World Hurdle every year since 2009, and was a very short priced favourite to repeat the feat in March at next year’s festival.
Punters were also dealt a huge blow by the news. Anyone placing an ante post bet on Big Bucks will now be out of pocket, as ante post betting rules state that you are not refunded any stake if your selection doesn’t run. Being such a popular choice, many thousands of pounds will now belong in the bookies satchel.
Other stable star Al Ferof was 5/1 second favourite for the Boxing Day feature race, the King George VI chase at Kempton, and is also believed to be out for the full season, also missing out on the Cheltenham Festival.