Buveur D'Air forced to dig deep to retain Champion crown

Paola Ditto
Marzo 15, 2018

NICKY HENDERSON is playing down expectations as Altior looks to confirm his pre-eminence as Britain's top steeplechaser in today's Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Buveur D'Air is the sixth horse to win the Champion Hurdle a couple of times.

Jockey Ruby Walsh, meanwhile, steadied Willie Mullins-trained Footpad following an early error before storming to a 14-length success on the 5-6 favourite in the Arkle Chase.

Henderson's charge, who had won all three starts comfortably this season, was made to work hard for victory.

Min will also do duty for Mullins, as the pair throw down the gauntlet to Nicky Henderson's flying machine, Altior.

The winner's stablemate Charli Parcs was up with the pace alongside 2015 Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen for much of the two-mile championship contest.

The duo battled all the way to the line but the reigning champ scored by a neck. We go again for Day 2.

The most exciting novice to race in Ireland for some years, Samcro, has his date with destiny in the first race on day 2, the Ballymore Novices Hurdle.

"Softish ground worries me a little bit, and of course Min does - I'm frightened of everybody", said Henderson, referring to Altior's defeat of Min in the 2016 Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Buveur D'Air could now bid for a second win in the Aintree Hurdle on Grand National Thursday on April 12. Bad luck was the only thing that was going to beat him [Buveur D'Air], and he didn't get bad luck and he won.

Though he was given a clean bill of health, heavy ground - and the fact Altior has raced just once this season - are negatives ahead of today's feature. He wouldn't go on fast ground wherever he went.

However, the Irish jockey has since been taken to hospital for tests and it's understood he has injured the same leg he broke past year during a race at Punchestown. He said: "It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up". It was a proper race.

It's that time of the year again, racing fans. He dug deep thankfully, what a buzz'.

"Samcro is an absolute pleasure to train, he just does everything so easy at home and is very obliging and laid back", he told his Betfair blog.

A novice with real class, a frightening turn of foot and just a galloping speed that no horse has even come close to matching; Samcro has the potential to be a real superstar and his date with destiny comes at Cheltenham this afternoon.

"It's great to get a victor - I missed last season and it's great to get a big victor for your boss". "It was a long year last year, but I've had great years here so I can't complain".

"There's always pressure when you are trying to win these big races, so it's a big relief and it gives us confidence going into the week". Better known as a chaser, he is attractively handicapped over hurdles and shaped well against superior horses when last seen on new years day. They both looked very strong in the finish.

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