• Horse Racing

Nicholls expects injured Big Buck's to bounce back

ESPN staff
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Big Buck's will be denied a shot at a fifth World Hurdle in 2013 by injury © PA Photos
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Paul Nicholls is confident Big Buck's will return fit and well next season, insisting his star hurdler's injury is not career threatening.

The champion trainer revealed on Monday night that in all likelihood Big Buck's would be sidelined for the remainder of the season, with what the gelding's owner described as a tendon injury.

Nicholls has confirmed this to be the case, but he admits that with lesser horses to Big Buck's and Al Ferof - who has a similar injury - he could have nursed them back to health for the second half of the season.

But he is mindful that time is the best healer with such injuries and will give the four-time World Hurdle winner all the time required.

"We unfortunately lost Big Buck's and Al Ferof for the season," Nicholls wrote on his Betfair column. "I must stress that they are not career-threatening injuries, and maybe we could have even given them both a month's rest, and then kicked on again with them. But I have learned down the years to stop and sort the problem immediately in these circumstances.

"They were two separate incidents, and unfortunately these kind of injuries are part and parcel of the game when training supremely fit racehorses.

"You only ever tend to hear about the good horses in these situations, but the injuries that Big Buck's and Al Ferof picked up happen to horses every day of the week in stables up and down the country. It's just that you never hear of them.

"Clifford [Baker] is brilliant with legs and he first detected something possibly wasn't quite right with the horses on Sunday night. He wasn't overly-happy with them, so we called in Buffy [vet] on Monday morning to look at them and do some scans. And when they came back and confirmed what we suspected, I immediately spoke to everyone concerned last evening and got the statement out as soon as I possibly could.

"With Big Buck's, Clifford detected a tiny bit of heat on Sunday and that sent the alarm bells ringing. So Buffy scanned his near fore tendon on Monday, and that confirmed a tiny bit of damage.

"He will now be given a month's box rest, and then be given 2-3 hours walking daily until the ground is better in April and we will turn him out.

"Then he will probably come back in on September 1, with a view to running again next Christmas. And the same recovery and training schedule awaits Al Ferof.

"Both horses will hopefully then be in a position to run at the Festival in 2014."

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