Trainer Nicky Henderson has talked up Buveur d’Air’s chances of successfully retaining his Champion Hurdle crown on day one of this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
The Champion Hurdle is the feature race of the opening day of the Festival and it was won last year by Buveur d’Air, who saw off the challenge of My Tent or Yours and Petit Mouchoir to claim overall glory.
The seven-year-old’s triumph was also Henderson’s sixth winner in the Grade One contest, making him the most successful trainer in the race’s history and he believes his gelding is in good shape to retain his title at Prestbury Park on Tuesday.
“Buveur d’Air’s greatest asset is his jumping – he is so quick it is frightening.
He measures them so precisely – it is like hurdlers in athletics – absolute precision,” Henderson was quoted as saying in the Yorkshire Post.
“He is just very good at jumping. I think he is improving – he is getting stronger. When he was third in the Supreme Hurdle to Altior at the Festival two years ago, we knew he was a good horse on the way up.”
Buveur d’Air’s recent form certainly suggests he should be considered as the horse to beat in the Champion Hurdle, as he has won on all three of his starts to date this season, most recently at Sandown Park last month.
The J. P. McManus-owned horse is priced at 1.62 to claim race glory on Tuesday and, in doing so, he will become the first horse since Hardy Eustace to successfully defend the title However, it won’t be plain sailing for the gelding, as the likes of Faugheen, Melon and Yorkhill are expected to mount a serious challenge during the race.