Sat, 30 Jan 2021
NICKY Henderson has insisted that Buveur D’Air will run in the Champion Hurdle at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
The 10-year-old, who won the race two years running in 2017 and 2018, made his long-awaited return at Haydock on Saturday.
Buveur D’Air finished second to Navajo Pass in the New One Unibet Hurdle, his first appearance since the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle in November 2019.
Despite not being able to back up claims as favourite in the race at Haydock, the Seven Barrows trainer was pleased to see him run well.
Speaking to ITV Racing, he said: "You have to say that you’re disappointed, but he’s had a really good gallop and they were going as fast as they could behind him.
"It felt like he was going to get there comfortably, but then when he got to the last he just had a big blow.
"He has done well, his jumping was as good as ever and it was so slick and quick," said the 70-year-old. "He jumped every hurdle like he always used to."
Buveur D’Air was making his first appearance in 420 days after requiring surgery due to a six-inch splinter being stuck in his foot after the Fighting Fifth encounter.
When asked about lining up in the Champion Hurdle, Henderson said: “Definitely, and he wouldn’t run before it.
"To get out here [at Haydock], rather than wait for Sandown – which was the original plan – gives you more time to work with.
"I don’t think he would’ve been any fitter in a fortnight’s time, but now we have time to work away."