Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
Top horse racing tips and the latest news.
A PUBLIC workout at Kempton Park on Saturday has been mooted for Buveur D’Air ahead of his bid to secure back to back victories in the Unibet Champion Hurdle.
Nicky Henderson’s charge is trying to become the first horse to win the two-mile championship contest in consecutive years since Hardy Eustace bagged the double in 2004 and 2005.
The son of Crillon has recorded three victories this term, winning the Grade 1 Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle, the Grade 1 Unibet Christmas Hurdle and at his most recent start, the Listed Contenders’ Hurdle at Sandown Park on February 3.
The Sandown victory was the seven-year-old’s ninth win in 10 starts over hurdles, with his sole defeat when third behind stablemate Altior in the 2016 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and he is a hot favourite, best priced at 4-7, for the feature race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.
“Buveur D’Air takes an awful lot of work. He hasn’t really had a race yet – he didn’t at Sandown the other day, but he worked this morning (Tuesday) and I would like to go to Kempton Park to work him on Saturday during racing if possible to get him pysched up,” trainer Nicky Henderson said earlier this week at a stable visit organised by Cheltenham racecourse.
“Another whole lot of horses will go to Kempton on Monday or Tuesday to work on the all-weather – last year we took 14. I would not mind taking Might Bite to Kempton on Saturday too – they won’t work together though. As far as the Unibet Champion Hurdle is concerned, if all goes well, Buveur D’Air will run along with My Tent Or Yours, maybe Charlie Parcs, while the owners are very keen to run Verdana Blue if it is good ground, which she needs. Call Me Lord won’t join them,” revealed Henderson who has won the Champion Hurdle six times.
“Buveur D’Air is better than some of my Champion Hurdlers. Binocular was a very good horse, while Punjabi was probably not the greatest Champion Hurdler. See You Then won the Champion Hurdle three times.
“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.
“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.
“My Tent Or Yours was runner-up in the Unibet Champion Hurdle for a third time 12 months ago and earned another tilt by winning the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December. Tent is on old legs, bless him. He is spectacular. He worked this morning and he will probably go to Kempton next Tuesday, I would suggest. “
“He has been second in three Champion Hurdles and had his day in the sunshine in the International. He is not going without reward and we have literally kept him for this. Charli Parcs ran a very good race in the Gerry Feilden. I genuinely think he just wants good ground and, as you know, I think he’s a talented horse. Poor old Charli might have to lead Buveur on Saturday as you have got to find a pacemaker for him.
“These races at The Festival are going to be very competitive and our job is to concentrate on what we are doing. There is no point worrying about what Willie [Mullins] or Gordon [Elliott] is doing – we have got to keep our heads down for three more weeks and try and make sure we don’t make any mistakes. Cross our fingers, we don’t get any hiccups.
“If every single one of the 40-odd horses we are aiming at The Festival get there, it will be a miracle. Anything can happen.”
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