Buveur D’Air primed for Christmas Hurdle defence

Next stop Kempton following Fighting Fifth demolition

  • Monday 24 December
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Connections of Buveur D’Air are understandably bullish about his prospects of continuing his winning streak in the Unibet Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The two-time Champion Hurdle hero goes to the Sunbury venue seeking to become the eighth dual winner of this race in living memory, as well as extending his run of success to 12.

The Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old could not have made a better seasonal debut when beating Samcro by eight lengths in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

“He came out of Newcastle very well and Nicky is happy with him,” said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.

“Fingers crossed all goes well – he was very good at Newcastle.”

Henderson, with a record seven victories to his credit in this race, feels it is jumping that sets Buveur D’Air apart from the rest.

Speaking at his Seven Barrows base when hosting the media earlier this month, he said: “At Newcastle the other day people thought ‘wow, he is really good’, which was nice.

“If you go back we were lucky to have See You Then and the one thing he had was the ability to cross a hurdle – he was so quick. Binocular (2010 Champion Hurdle winner and dual Christmas Hurdle victor) 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.”

Henderson also saddles Verdana Blue, winner of the Elite Hurdle last month and runner-up in a Listed race on the Flat three weeks ago.

Giving his thoughts in his Unibet blog, Henderson said: “There’s not much else I can say about him (Buveur D’Air) that hasn’t already been said.

“It’s not a one-horse race though, as If The Cap Fits was impressive last time at Ascot as was Global Citizen at Newbury, so he might not have it all his own way but on what we saw in the Fighting Fifth he should be entitled to win this.”

He added of Verdana Blue: “She’s fit and well and there to do her very best. It would be great if she could get some Grade One black type and she loves good ground.

“She’s been in great form all autumn and should run well.”

Ben Pauling is optimistic of a big run from Global Citizen, winner of the Grade Two Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle over the course and distance in February and successful in the Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury three weeks ago.

“He’s in sparkling form. Obviously Buveur D’Air looks the stand-out, but other than that, apart from the outsider, it’s very competitive with the other three for the placings,” said the Gloucestershire trainer.

“Hopefully it will be a good race and a nice spectacle for people to watch.

“He loves the track, he’s at his best on a sound surface, which it will be, and I think he’ll run a big race.”

Boite is likely to be the complete outsider of the five, but his trainer Warren Greatrex believes it is worth taking a chance and grabbing some decent prize money.

“He’s sort of in-between one thing and another so we felt let’s go there and see if we can pick up a bit of prize money and decide what to do with him after Christmas,” said the Lambourn handler.

“He seems in good form and if he can pick up third or fourth place we’d be happy.”

Completing the quintet is If The Cap Fits, who was runner-up to Verdana Blue in the Elite Hurdle. Harry Fry’s charge drops back in trip after winning the Coral Hurdle over two and a half miles at Ascot last month.

Buveur D’Air primed for Christmas Hurdle defence
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