Buveur D’Air stars among 27 entries, up from 23 last year, for the Grade 1 Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on day one of The Festival™ presented by Magners, for Champion Day on Tuesday, March 12.
Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old has captured the two most recent renewals of the two-mile hurdling championship, worth £450,000, and is trying to become the sixth three-time winner of the Unibet Champion Hurdle since the race’s inception in 1927. He is out to emulate Hatton’s Grace, Sir Ken, Persian War, See You Then and Istabraq.
Buveur D’Air, successful in 11 of his 13 starts over hurdles, looked as good as ever on his comeback this term when routing Irish hope Samcro by eight lengths in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle in December. But he suffered a shock short-head defeat at the hands of stablemate Verdana Blue in the Grade 1 Unibet Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
Henderson, with seven successes, has the best record of any trainer ever in the history of the Unibet Champion Hurdle. The six-strong team from Britain’s champion jump trainer also features the Grade 2 Unibet International Hurdle victor Brain Power, Call Me Lord, Charli Parcs and We Have A Dream.