Buveur d'Air Claims The Champions Hurdle At Cheltenham

Cheltenham preview

The big race of the day is the Champion Hurdle at 3.30pm and you'll struggle to find anyone going against Buveur D'Air, in the hunt for his 10th straight win.

Winning trainer Tom George said: "He must have a huge engine".

"They were two very fearless horses, with two courageous jockeys".

"After he made those two or three mistakes, I thought he would be doing well to get in the first four and he just kept on picking up again", he said. "He was brilliant. I can't say I was confident when we landed at the back of the first down the back". It was a proper race. He was headed but Barry was always happy.

There was little to choose between the pair jumping the final flight and both fought tooth and nail all the way up the hill, with Buveur D'Air - all guts - emerging victorious by a neck to also give the aforementioned McManus a seventh success in this race.

"He didn't blow up, but he had a blow afterwards. That is a big relief, you are expected to collect and he has done". "I'll speak to J P McManus and then we'll make a decision".

Buveur D'Air joined the likes of Night Nurse (1976 and 1977) and Sea Pigeon (1980 and 1981) in winning back-to-back Champion Hurdles. The ground made it the ultimate test. I first saw this horse at the Costellos, the same place I bought Best Mate from. He's proved he is very good - you don't win these back-to-back unless you are very good, and he's won everything all season. He's a top-class horse. He scrapped it out today; he's been flashy all season because he hasn't had to deal with much, but today he had opposition and he lived up to it. He found what was needed.

"I missed one down the back, which I didn't expect". The runner-up came and I thought he was coming to beat me, but he's battle hardened.

At last year's meeting it took Willie Mullins till day three of the meeting to get on the scoreboard - yet he still ended up with six wins. "He dug deep thankfully, what a buzz".

"I wasn't anxious about the ground for him, lots of other horses would have been suited by better ground".

He added: "Ruby said Faugheen just wants a longer trip nowadays, he just lacks the spark for two miles".

Tactically, the race probably did not go her way but a mare with a strong staying record could have been ridden more aggressively.

The Mullins-trained Yorkhill was even more disappointing, eventually pulling up.

Mullins said of Footpad: "This fellow could be a Gold Cup horse". She really needs a trip and will go way back up in trip and back over fences now.



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