BUVEUR D'AIR COULD ANSWER ANY CRITICS WITH A CHAMPION HURDLE HAT-TRICK
The waiting is finally over! From the very start of every season, it is impossible not to be thinking about and looking forward to the Cheltenham Festival.
These are the days that we all tend to remember the most and as a competitor, this is what you live for. All we can hope for is a clean run of luck through the week and I can’t wait to get going.
Where can we start but with the hat-trick seeking BUVEUR D’AIR in the Unibet Champion Hurdle (3.30). He has been a very important horse for me and this is a big day for him.
Not everyone has given him full credit for his two wins in the Champion Hurdle on account of the perceived quality of his opposition, but I think it’s fair to say that if he can beat this field, there won’t be too many questions left for him to answer.
This looks a great Champion Hurdle and every single one of the runners fully deserve their place in the field. Apple’s Jade has been really impressive this season and giving 7lb to her represents a proper challenge for Buveur D’Air.
We have no idea how good Laurina is, but there is no better place to find out than here. In any other year, the likes of Sharjah, Melon and Espoir D’Allen would be getting talked about much more than they have been, but that just shows how much depth there is in the race.
There is some rain (and snow!) about, but I wouldn’t be fearful of soft ground for him at all. With Global Citizen and Apple’s Jade in there, there should be an honest pace throughout. Hopefully there will be no hard luck stories and all the questions will be answered when they pass the line.
I know Nicky and Corky are delighted with his condition and form he is in at the minute. If he can give me the feel he did when he won the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle earlier this season, that’ll do for me. I can’t wait to sit on him.
Later on the card I ride the Joseph O’Brien-trained SLOWMOTION in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (4.10). She’ll be a big price, but I think she has a chance of running well.
She shaped with a bit more promise behind Laurina at Punchestown last time and I think the longer trip will definitely suit her. The rain won’t be any inconvenience to her, so hopefully she’ll run a nice race.
My other ride on the day is on Paul Nicholls-trained MOVEWITHTHETIMES in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (4.50). He’s been a bit frustrating, as he jumps quite well in the main, but he just has a tendency to lunge at a fence and that cost him in his last two runs with him unseating me at Fakenham and then falling at Cheltenham in November.
I’m sure Paul will have been working hard on his jumping since then and if he puts it together, his old form tells you that he has the ability to be competitive in a race like this. That said, it would be hard to be bullish that he’ll do things right.