Buveur D'Air retains Champion Hurdle title

LONDON - Buveur D&39;Air joined an elite group of horses by winning a second successive Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.

Sent off as the 4/6 odds-on favourite, Buveur D&39;Air held off a strong challenge from 7/1 shot Melon before pulling clear in sight of the winning post under Irish jockey Barry Geraghty.



Mick Jazz, a 25/1 outsider, was third in the two-mile and 87 yards-long (3.29 kilometres) race, one of the showpiece events during southwest course Cheltenham&39;s annual Festival week -- English horseracing&39;s premier jumps meeting.

"He was brilliant," said Geraghty of Buveur D&39;Air in an interview with BBC Radio. "It was a war out there.

"I thought Melon was going to beat me. He dug deep thankfully, what a buzz."

Buveur D&39;Air&39;s win saw English trainer Nicky Henderson and Irish owner JP McManus extend their existing Champion Hurdle race-records to seven wins apiece.

"The second horse is a good horse," said veteran handler Henderson after sending out yet another winner from his Seven Barrows yard near Lambourn, southern England.



"Buveur D&39;Air has been winning races by large margins all season and that was the first race he has been in. He has not had to knuckle down so far.

"But that is job done. That was a big relief. We were expected to collect and he did," added Henderson, echoing the thoughts of cheering spectators who had backed his horse despite an uninviting starting price.

Buveur D&39;Air joined the likes of Night Nurse (1976 and 1977) and Sea Pigeon (1980 and 1981) in winning back-to-back Champion Hurdles.

But he still needs one more win to match the all-time record of three Champion Hurdle victories held jointly by five horses, including the Henderson-trained See You Then (1985, 1986 and 1987) and McManus-owned Istabraq (1998, 1999 and 2000).