Buveur D’Air remains firmly on course to defend his crown in the Unibet Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day.
The JP McManus-owned seven-year-old won the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, the Christmas Hurdle and the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown last season before landing his second Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
However, he was arguably more impressive than in any of those victories when readily dismissing Irish challenger Samcro on his return to Newcastle at the start of the month and trainer Nicky Henderson is pleased to see his charge getting some well deserved praise for his performance.
Speaking at a launch of Kempton’s 32Red Festival, Henderson said:” think the nice thing about Newcastle was it was the day he actually gained recognition.
“I think last year the Fighting Fifth was a weak affair and he won that very easily and the Christmas Hurdle was a weak affair and he won that easily. The Contenders Hurdle is a lovely race, but it is always a gallop for somebody and I don’t think he was at his best in the Champion Hurdle for various reasons.
“At Newcastle the other day people thought ‘wow, he is really good’, which was nice.”
Buveur D’Air is a best priced even-money favourite to become the sixth horse to win three Champion Hurdles, the two most recent being Henderson’s See You Then in the 1980s and the legendary Istabraq (1998, 1999 and 2000), trained by Aidan O’Brien.
Henderson added: “If you go back we were lucky to have See You Then and the one thing he had the ability was to cross a hurdle – he was so quick. Binocular (2010 Champion Hurdle winner) was the same and so is this horse. The one thing they have in common apart from their natural ability is to cross hurdles quickly and speedily.
“Even when he crashed through the last at Newcastle, he gained a length doing that.”