Dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D'Air made a satisfactory return to racing on Saturday finishing second behind Navajo Pass in the Grade Two Unibet The New One Hurdle at Haydock and his trainer Nicky Henderson is expecting him to come on a huge amount for that outing.
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.
Henderson is excited for what is next for the Grade One star and is confident that he will come on a huge amount for that run.
(Credit ATR) “He was absolutely 100 per cent this morning, which was great,” said Henderson.
“It was different than coming back from something like a tendon injury and I did feel if something was going to rear it’s head this time, it would have been early on in his preparation rather than late.
“He was great this morning though, good as gold, and that’s the main thing.”
“I couldn’t have got him any fitter at home if we were to wait for Sandown, so we’ve two weeks longer to get him as well as we can (for Cheltenham) now,” said Henderson.
“What you’ve got to remember is he’s 10 now, it’s not like training a four-year-old or a five-year-old who has had a year off.
“I’m not saying he’s got old legs or anything like that, but he is a bit older and it’s that bit harder for them. It doesn’t mean they don’t retain all their ability, though.
“I know no 10-year-old has won it since Sea Pigeon and then you have to go all the way back to Hatton’s Grace, but we were very happy with how he ran.
“Of course we wanted to win, but I’m pleased we did it. I don’t think he did anything wrong in that ground. He did not like it but his jumping was still so fast, that was still great to watch.
“The last time he ran in ground as bad as that he was beaten at Aintree by Supasundae and then three weeks later went to Punchestown and bolted up in their Champion Hurdle under Davy Russell.”