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Big Bucks and Al Ferof out for season
Mon, Dec 17th, 2012

Paul Nicholls has been dealt a double blow in his campaign to retain the National Hunt trainers title with the news that both Big Bucks and Al Ferof have been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Releasing the news via his Betfair column Nicholls announced:

I have some bad news to report. At evening stables tonight, we discovered a problem with both Big Buck's and Al Ferof. I am not in a position to go into great detail at this point, but I can confirm that 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.

 Big Bucks owner Andy Stewart later said:

He didn't do it (sustain the injury) on the gallops.He was a little bit anxious in one of his legs at evening stables and after Clifford (Baker, Nicholls' head lad) and the vet inspected him, we decided to draw stumps. He'll not be running on Saturday and he won't be trying to win a fifth World Hurdle in March.I'm a little bit gutted, but no-one has died and the horse is perfectly well. When the horses come back in at the end of July we shall reassess the situation. If he still has that zest and sparkle, we will continue with him, but if he hasn't got that zest and sparkle, he will be retired.

The shake up could see Dermot Weld reconsider the World Hurdle for Rite of Passage. Matt Chapman tweeted earlier this evening:

Matt Chapman ‏@MCYeeehaaa

Dermot Weld tells me he'll "re-visit" World H possibility for Rite of Passage after "sad" Big Buck's news. But Ascot GC target right now.

Oscar Whisky may also come back into the World Hurdle picture. Earlier today Barry Geraghty writing in his Attheraces blog had commented:

It's probably not fair to condemn him over three miles because the feel he gave me on Saturday was that he'd be fine over that distance on good ground. I don't think he ran up to his best form in the World Hurdle last season. I'm not for one moment saying he should have beaten Big Buck's but he's certainly as good or better than the second that day, Voler La Verdette but he didn't get to the last. He gave me the impression on Saturday that he should be getting further and if Big Buck's wasn't there then you'd definitely be going for the World Hurdle again.

John Hales owner of Al Ferof said of his horse:

We're certainly talking 12 months off. He has a slight nick in a tendon.The injury could have happened in a million ways. It's a big King George disappointment but he's had a wonderful 2012.

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