Bu­veur faces his big test says Hen­der­son

The Racing Paper - - News - By Willis Jones

NICKY Hen­der­son is well aware of the task fac­ing Bu­veur D’Air as he at­tempts to re­tain his BetVic­tor Fight­ing Fifth Hur­dle crown at New­cas­tle.

Al­ready a dual Cham­pion Hur­dle win­ner, there is a school of thought which sug­gests the seven-year-old does not quite get the credit he de­serves.

Quite why that may be given he is aim­ing to win his 11th race on the bounce, in­clud­ing two suc­cesses over fences – is not clear. But one thing is for cer­tain – he will have to be on his A-game against Sam­cro, Sum­merville Boy and Bedrock to­day.

“This will be one of the tough­est races he has faced,” said Hen­der­son.

“Whereas the Fight­ing Fifth last year he was al­ways go­ing to win, the Christ­mas Hur­dle he was al­ways go­ing to win and the Con­tenders he could not do any­thing but win – this is a tough start­ing place.

“He takes a lot of work, but is in good form. He has had a race­course gal­lop. He is in good form, and it is his ground.

“It will be a fas­ci­nat­ing race – what with Sam­cro in there, and Sum­merville Boy is a de­cent horse too. Tom Ge­orge’s horses are fly­ing, so he is go­ing to be well wound up for this.”

Sam­cro was her­alded as the se­cond com­ing last sea­son, win­ning at the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val and be­ing asked to tackle his el­ders at Punchestown, where he fell.

His rep­u­ta­tion suf­fered a fur­ther dent when beaten by Bedrock on his re­turn at Down Royal, so he is on a re­trieval mis­sion now.

There was talk of novice chas­ing this sea­son, but the lure of a gen­uine Cham­pion Hur­dle tilt was too much for con­nec­tions.

Trainer Gor­don El­liott said: “He’s as fit and as well as I can have him. It’s whether he’s good enough around a sharp track like New­cas­tle, but I think Chel­tenham will be right up his al­ley.

“I haven’t had a horse in the yard be­fore that I thought could be com­pet­i­tive in a Cham­pion Hur­dle, but I think he can.”

Sum­merville Boy is also mak­ing the step out of novice com­pany, but sur­vived two bad jumps at the last two flights in the Supreme at Chel­tenham to sug­gest he was value for a good bit more than the win­ning mar­gin.

Ge­orge said: “He’s had a nice prepa­ra­tion, but ob­vi­ously we’re go­ing in against the ab­so­lute very best which means we can’t feel our way, like we did last sea­son.

“He’s done a lot of work at home. We haven’t ab­so­lutely drained him, and he’s ready for a sea­son ahead of him.

While book­mak­ers are mak­ing it a three-horse race, it suits Iain Jar­dine, the trainer of Bedrock, to come in un­der the radar.

“It doesn’t bother us not be­ing talked about,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously it’s a tough task, but he’s earned it by beat­ing Sam­cro.

“It’s dif­fer­ent ground, which could be an is­sue, but he’s in good old form and seems to be im­prov­ing.

“He was al­ways un­der­rated as a novice and wasn’t beaten far by Lalor. His form is rock solid, and it’s good to have him.”

Reign­ing champ: Bu­veur D’Air

Tough race: Nicky Hen­der­son

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