WHO D’AIRS WINS

Hendo: I was ready for a bloody nose, but Buv’s a champ

Irish Sunday Mirror - - SPORT - BY DAVID YATES @the­be­ford­fox

BUVEUR D’AIR swat­ted away Ir­ish star Sam­cro with dis­dain to land back-to-back vic­to­ries in New­cas­tle’s Fight­ing Fifth Hur­dle – and take a gi­ant leap to­wards a third Cham­pion Hur­dle crown.

Trainer Nicky Hen­der­son feared his seven-year-old, win­ner of the Chel­tenham two-miler for the past two sea­sons, was tak­ing on “as big a test as he’s faced” when lock­ing horns with Gor­don El­liott’s Bal­ly­more Novices’ Hur­dle vic­tor, with Supreme Novices’ Hur­dle hero Sum­merville Boy also in the five-run­ner field.

But Hen­der­son’s con­cerns proved ground­less as Buveur D’air, made to fight when se­cur­ing his sec­ond Cham­pion Hur­dle back in the spring, loomed along­side toil­ing leader Sam­cro run­ning to the fi­nal flight of the Grade 1 test, his rider Barry Ger­aghty sit­ting mo­tion­less.

De­spite an out-of-char­ac­ter mis­take at the last ob­sta­cle, Buveur D’air, who has un­der­gone breath­ing surgery since his lat­est start, sprinted away for an eight-length supremacy, with Vi­sion Des Flos beat­ing Sum­merville Boy for third.

“I was ready for an­other bloody nose, to be hon­est with you, but I think he showed him­self a cham­pion today,” said a re­lieved Hen­der­son, whose Might Bite had re­turned a well­beaten last of five when favourite for Hay­dock Park’s Bet­fair Chase seven days ear­lier. “I was say­ing – and I re­ally meant it – if he was ever go­ing to get beaten, it was go­ing to be today. He’s gone above all ex­pec­ta­tions.

“There are other fish in the pond, but now he is the horse they have to beat.”

The book­mak­ers share Hen­der­son’s view. Buveur D’air was cut to 5-6 favourite ( from 4-1) to em­u­late Hen­der­son’s See You Then, who com­pleted a Cham­pion Hur­dle hat-trick in 1987.

El­liott, who con­ceded only “a mir­a­cle” would see Sam­cro – now as big as 12-1 for the 2019 Cham­pion Hur­dle – turn the ta­bles on Buveur D’air next March, said: “The best won – no mat­ter what tac­tics we tried, that would have been the re­sult.

“We came over here to try and take him on, and he just showed how good he is. Buveur D’air was ex­cel­lent, and we’ve no ex­cuses.

“I’m still go­ing to train him for the Cham­pion Hur­dle. We can’t back down now.”

Colin Tiz­zard sad­dled a 1-2 in the Lad­brokes Tro­phy at New­bury as 12-1 chance Siz­ing Ten­nessee and Tom Scu­d­amore gal­loped to a 10-length mar­gin over 4-1 shot El­e­gant Es­cape.

“Some­times, you get lucky, don’t you?” grinned Tiz­zard, whose Na­tive River cap­tured the race, then run as the Hen­nessy Gold Cup, in 2016 be­fore land­ing the fol­low­ing sea­son’s Chel­tenham Gold Cup. “We left him six weeks af­ter he bolted up first time [at Fon­twell] – we thought there was only one race be­fore him be­fore Christ­mas.

“It’s lovely how it works out,” added the Dorset trainer, who could now send Siz­ing Ten­nessee for the Welsh Grand Na­tional at Chep­stow on De­cem­ber 27.

BU-TIFUL RE­SULT: Ger­aghty and Buveur D’air win, to the de­light of owner JP Mc­manus

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