Geraghty Pilots Buveau D'Air To Cheltenham Feature Repeat

Annette Crawford
March 14, 2018

With his stable companion Charli Parcs ensuring a sound gallop alongside the 2015 champion Faugheen, Buveur D'Air was given a nice lead into the race and although his jumping was not as sure-footed as usual, he arrived on the scene travelling powerfully after jumping the second flight from the finish.

Just when Willie Mullins' Melon looked to be getting the better of the French-bred Buveur D'Air, Nicky Henderson's charge pulled out all the stops to cross the line half a length in front and provide Henderson with his seventh success in the 2m ½ furlong contest.

A first back-to-back victor of this race since Hardy Eustace.

"That was a good race, a proper race", said Henderson, relieved to chalk up his first victor of the week and possibly the first leg of an historic big race treble of Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup. It's just been in the back of my mind and has always anxious me.

"He had a good blow, as he simply hasn't had to knuckle down before". He is a young horse and he has done everything right the whole way. "That's a big relief, he was expected to collect".

"My Tent Or Yours is a non runner in the Unibet Champion Hurdle today on veterinary advice", Henderson added.

Had Melon won it would have seen Mullins close the gap to Henderson in the battle for Cheltenham supremacy, but he did have three winners in the day.

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh combined for their first victor at this year's Festival with 6-to-5-on favourite Footpad claiming the Arkle.

There had been suggestions that owner Rich Ricci wanted Douvan to instead go in the Ryanair to avoid a clash with stablemate Min but Mullins says jockey Ruby Walsh had the final call.

They made it a double when Benie Des Dieux and Walsh won the Mares hurdle in a 9-1 double for Walsh who made it winners numbers 57 and 58 at Cheltenham.

Trainer Nicky Henderson will decide tomorrow morning whether Queen Mother Champion Chase favourite Altior will make the race.

"It was a proper race, I thought he was going to beat me, he's battle-hardened".

The 5-to-1 favourite Coo Star Sivola claimed the Ultima Handicap Chase - the third race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Footpad has already been quoted as a 7-2 shot for next year's Champion Chase.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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