Dual Champion Hurdle Winner Buveur D'Air Retired

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

Buveur D'Air

Dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D'Air has been retired by owner JP McManus with the racing world paying homage to the superstar, including his trainer Nicky Henderson.

One of the first races that put the gelding on the map was the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in March 2016, finishing third behind stablemate Altior and the Willie Mullins trained Min.

Buveur D'Air landed back to back Grade Ones at the Cheltenham festival in 2017 and 2018 but after that did not have his most convincing season results wise.

Back in 2018 he started his season off in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, as he did the season before putting in his best performance of the season when seeing off superstar Samcro like he was not there.

He then suffered a shock defeat to stablemate Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day before getting back on track at Sandown in the Listed Contenders Hurdle.

His hat-trick bid in the Champion Hurdle loomed and if it wasn't for suffering his first fall of his career many think he would have picked up the pieces and landed the race that ultimately fell apart.

He headed to Aintree stepping up in trip and could only manage a narrow second to Supasundae but finished his season off in superb style showing that he still holds star ability when taking the Grade One Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown festival and reversing the form with Jessica Harrington's gelding.

Back for his seasonal debut in November 2019 he was odds on to land a third consecutive Fighting Fifth when being chinned by Cornerstone Lad on the line.

It was revealed after the race he had suffered a nasty injury when clattering one of the flights at the northern track and has not been seen since.

Having been off the track for a lengthy period of time he returned at Haydock and it was only a question of fitness for how he would perform and it told in the final stages when not quite having the stamina to get home in his usual style.

Seen twice more in his career after that at Aintree in April 2021 when looking to retain his Aintree Hurdle title but could only manage fourth, he was last seen at Kelso in the Morebattle Hurdle when only beating two home.

(Credit Racing Post) Henderson said: "He was a real friend and a very special horse. A joy to have around the place. We've been so lucky that the Champion Hurdle has been quite good for us, but he was a horse of a lifetime, really. He was a beautiful horse, too.

"He's on his way back to Martinstown to join the likes of Istabraq and Binocular so I'm sure they'll be able to tell a few stories between themselves about winning Champion Hurdles. It's fantastic that JP has collected and keeps all those brilliant horses.

"He added: "Unfortunately that piece of wood that got stuck in his hoof in the 2019 Fighting Fifth didn't make matters straightforward. The picture from Newcastle that day tells the story. We had to take the whole front of his hoof off to get all the bits of debris out.

"After getting back on track, he still managed to run a hell of a race in the Aintree Hurdle last year when he possibly could have even won, but unfortunately that foot never fully got back to its best. He was a very, very good horse, though."

Retired rider Barry Geraghty was on board the talented gelding for eight of his wins during his career and he had nothing but compliments for the horse.

"He was a brilliant horse and we were blessed to have some great days with him," said Geraghty.

"I missed his first Champion Hurdle through injury but got back on him for the following year at Cheltenham. Everywhere he went, he was so consistent with a great attitude."

Geraghty added: "He was the fastest horse I've ever ridden over a hurdle, so quick and slick. He was like lightning. You wouldn't even know you left the ground on him. It was unbelievable speed but so measured. He could be inch perfect."