Dual Cheltenham festival Grade 1 Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D'Air is very much set to defend another crown he has in the Unibet Christmas Hurdle at the King George meeting at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The seven year old who has a jockey in the famous silks of J P McManus retained his Fighting Fifth Hurdle at the start of December and brushed aside Gordon Elliott's hurdling superstar from last season Samcro and really staked his claim for favouritism at the top of the Champion Hurdle market in March.
Last season the French bred horse won the Fighting Fifth, then the Christmas Hurdle and Kempton on Boxing day before taking the Grade 1 at Cheltenham and this year he is looking to do the same.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has talked about how well he came out of the black type fixture at Newcastle and is pleased with the work he is doing at home.
(Credit At The Races) Henderson said: "think the nice thing about Newcastle was it was the day he actually gained recognition.
“I think last year the Fighting Fifth was a weak affair and he won that very easily and the Christmas Hurdle was a weak affair and he won that easily. The Contenders Hurdle is a lovely race, but it is always a gallop for somebody and I don’t think he was at his best in the Champion Hurdle for various reasons.
“At Newcastle the other day people thought ‘wow, he is really good’, which was nice.”
Buveur D'Air is looking to become only the sixth horse in the history of the Cheltenham festival to win the Champion Hurdle three times in a row and is a best price of 1/1.
The last horse to win three Grade 1 Champion Hurdles consecutively was the Aidan O'Brien trained Istabraq in 1998,1999 and 2000.
Henderson added: “If you go back we were lucky to have See You Then and the one thing he had the ability was to cross a hurdle – he was so quick. Binocular (2010 Champion Hurdle winner) was the same and so is this horse. The one thing they have in common apart from their natural ability is to cross hurdles quickly and speedily.
“Even when he crashed through the last at Newcastle, he gained a length doing that.”