Two-time Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air returned to action last weekend in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle where he defended his crown in arguably the strongest running the of 2m hurdle contest for three decades.
Up against Samcro and Summersville Boy, the eight-year-old extended his consecutive winning record to 11 races in an impressive performance to suggest he is the horse they all have to beat again in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
— Racing Post (@RacingPost) December 2, 2018
In the early stages of the race at Newcastle, regular jockey Barry Geraghty took a keen hold of his horse. The former Irish Champion Jockey opted to make a move three obstacles from home and when he asked his horse to quicken, he was able to do so with ease to hit the front and stretch away from Samcro who was his nearest challenger in the final furlong.
On the back of his seasonal reappearance, Buveur D’Air is now proving very popular in the latest horse racing predictions and previews for the Champion Hurdle where he is evens to complete a hat-trick at Cheltenham in the premier hurdle contest. Last season he scored by just a neck ahead of Melon in a hard-fought victory, while two years ago, the margin of success was much bigger at just over four lengths.
Laurina Could Prove Biggest Challenge to Buveur D’Air
Last season’s Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle winner Laurina is expected to take on her opposite sex this season with the Champion Hurdle her likely target in March for Irish Champion Trainer Willie Mullins.
Since moving to Ireland from France in November 2017, the five-year-old has won all four of her races comfortably. She finished her previous campaign with victory in the Grade One Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final.
SAMCRO, APPLES JADE, BENIE DES DIEUX and LAURINA all among the entries for the feature Grade 1 https://t.co/mNfzVJisTp Hatton's Grace
Hurdle this Sunday.
— FairyhouseRacecourse (@Fairyhouse) November 27, 2018
Mullins will be hoping Laurina can follow in the footsteps of Annie Power who won the Champion Hurdle for him in 2016. Only two mares have been successful in the feature race on day one of the Festival in the last 30 years, with Flakey Dove being the other to do so in 1994.
Melon Set For Second Shot At Champion Hurdle
Melon is set to join his stablemate Laurina in the Champion Hurdle in what will be his second shot at the 2m contest. The six-year-old was neck and neck with Buveur D’Air after the last hurdle in the 2018 race and looked to be in with every chance up the hill at Prestbury Park. Unfortunately for his connections, he was just unable to pass the defending champion who showed all his fighting to qualities to retain his crown.
Mullins’ hurdler will need to bounce back from his last start in Ireland where he fell in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle which was won by Supasundae. His seasonal reappearance could come on the Festival programme at Leopardstown later this month.
The 2019 Champion Hurdle takes place on 12th March in what is the feature race on day one of the Festival at Cheltenham.