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Unibet Champion Hurdle
Grade 1, Cheltenham 15:30
£469,440 added,
4yo plus,
2m 87y, Class 1  
Tuesday 13th March 2018

Buveur D'Air made to pull out all the stops

1 Buveur D'Air 4/6F
2 Melon 7/1
3 Mick Jazz 25/1
11 ran NR: My Tent Or Yours, Verdana Blue
Distances: nk, 3l, 9l Time: 4m 5.00s (slow by 14.00s)

Seven Barrows maestro Nicky Henderson recorded his 59th victory at the Cheltenham Festival following a record seventh success with Buveur D'Air's game win in the two-mile championship contest.

Buveur D'Air
© Racehorse Photos
Buveur D'Air
The first back-to-back winner of the hurdling highlight since Hardy Eustace in 2004 and 2005, Buveur D'Air, the 4/6 favourite was always prominent under Barry Geraghty and despite being headed by the Willie Mullins-trained Melon (7/1), the seven-year-old son of Crillon rallied tenaciously under Geraghty to win by a neck in a thrilling finish. 
 
The Gordon Elliott-trained Mick Jazz (25/1) was three lengths further back in third; the first three clear.
 
A delighted Henderson said: "It was a brilliant race. They went a good gallop throughout and Buveur D'Air and Melon were able to then keep that gallop up in the closing stages, it was a great contest to keep that up the whole way.
 
"They were two very brave horses, with two brave jockeys. I think he did get headed but Barry said he was never worried as he thought he would always get there.
 
"Buveur D'Air had a battle on his hands, probably his first real battle this year. After his last race at Sandown, we were talking about him not having any really hard races this year, but today was one.
 
"Unlike some of his prep races, this was a proper race and he showed his class. He was headed but Barry was always happy. It was a proper race and Melon is a good horse, but Buveur D'Air just put his head down and battled.
 
"He didn't blow up, but he had a blow afterwards. He is a really good young horse, he did what he had to today.
 
"There's always pressure when you are trying to win these big races, so it's a big relief and it gives us confidence going into the week.
 
"We have four weeks until Aintree, so we could go back there again if there is soft ground in the going description. I'll speak to J P McManus and then we'll make a decision."
 
Winning owner J P McManus was also winning his seventh Champion Hurdle along with his 53rd Cheltenham Festival success and he was equally delighted.
 
McManus said: "I'm keeping up with Nicky! I'm thrilled as Barry missed out last year and whilst Noel gave him a great ride last year, it was nice that Barry was involved and got to share in it and enjoy it.
 
"Barry got the job done and looked strong as did Paul Townend on Melon and Barry just got the better of him.
 
"I thought we had it all to do after the last, but I was hoping that Barry's strength might get us through."

Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
£469,440 added, 4yo plus, 2m 87y, Class 1
11 ran
Going: Heavy, Soft in places

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Buveur D'Air (FR) 4/6f B J Geraghty
11-10
N J Henderson 7
2nd nk Melon 7/1 P Townend
11-10
W P Mullins 6
3rd 3 Mick Jazz (FR) 25/1 D N Russell
11-10
G Elliott 7
4th 9 Identity Thief (IRE) 50/1 S W Flanagan
11-10
H de Bromhead 8
5th Elgin 12/1 Wayne Hutchinson
11-10
A King 6
6th 8 Faugheen (IRE) 4/1 R Walsh
11-10
W P Mullins 10
7th ½ Wicklow Brave 14/1 Mr P W Mullins
11-10
W P Mullins 9
8th Ch'tibello (FR) 33/1 Harry Skelton
11-10
D Skelton 7
9th 17 John Constable (IRE) 66/1 L P Aspell
11-10
Evan Williams 7
Also Ran: Charli Parcs (Pulled Up) , Yorkhill (Pulled Up)
NR My Tent Or Yours (IRE) NON RUNNER N J Henderson 11
NR   Verdana Blue (IRE) NON RUNNER N J Henderson 6

Mathematician Betting

Melon, who started a 7/1 chance, delighted Willie Mullins his trainer with his close second in the Unibet Champion Hurdle.
 
"It was a terrific performance from him." Mullins said "at least it vindicated what we thought of him. He just did not face the hood on his previous start. I think he is a horse who is going to improve. He will be better next year.
 
"I am not too worried about the ground, there are plenty of horses who will improve with better ground.
 
"Probably we will keep him hurdling rather than chasing but we will make those decisions later in the season.
 
"I am really looking forward to him.
 
"We may go for the Aintree hurdle with him but my preference normally would be Punchestown.
 
Mullins also trained the 4/1 chance Faugheen who came home in sixth and Yorkhill (PU), commented: "Faugheen just wants a trip at this stage of his career. Ruby got off him and said he just wants a longer trip nowadays. 
 
"I may send him over a longer trip at Punchestown or maybe look at the race in Aintree.
 
"Yorkhill just isn't performing. 
 
"It is a bit of a head scratcher. Sometimes horses take a year out.
 
"He has been up and down in the trips, fences, hurdles...
 
"All of my runners have come back fine."
 
Paul Townend, jockey of the second-placed Melon, said: "He ran a cracker. he was very professional and settled great.
 
"We winged the last and I thought we had our head in front but the line was getting further away in the last 20 yards.
 
"He has so little experience he can only build on that run. He was more professional today than he was in his last run - he is definitely a horse going forward."

CHAMPION HURDLE PREVIOUS RESULTS

2017-WINNER-BUVEUR D’AIR 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-5/1 2ND-My Tent Or Yours 10-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Aidan Coleman; SP-16/1
3RD-Petit Mouchoir 6-11-10 Owner-Gigginstown House Stud; Trainer-Henry de Bromhead IRE; Jockey-Bryan Cooper; SP-6/1 11 ran, Time-3m 50.90s; Dist-41⁄2, 3 2/1 Fav Yanworth (Disqualified from 7th – banned substance in sample)

2016-WINNER-ANNIE POWER 8-11-03 Owner-Susannah Ricci; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-5/2 Fav
2ND-My Tent Or Yours 9-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-10/1
3RD-Nichols Canyon 6-11-10 Owner-Andrea & Graham Wylie; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Paul Townend; SP-15/2
12 ran, Time-3m 45.10s (new record); Dist-41⁄2, hd

2015-WINNER-FAUGHEEN 7-11-10 Owner-Susannah Ricci; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-4/5 Fav
2ND-Arctic Fire 6-11-10 Owner-Wicklow Bloodstock Limited; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Danny Mullins; SP-20/1
3RD-Hurricane Fly 11-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Paul Townend ; SP-8/1
8 ran, Time-3m 50.90s; Dist-11⁄2, 5

2014-WINNER-JEZKI 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-9/1
2ND-My Tent Or Yours 7-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-3/1
3RD-The New One 6-11-10 Owner-Sarah Such; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Sam Twiston-Davies; SP-10/3
9 ran, Time-3m 45.25s (new record); Dist-nk, 2½ 11/4 Fav Hurricane Fly (4th)

2013-WINNER- HURRICANE FLY 9-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-13/8 Fav
2ND-Rock On Ruby 8-11-10 Owner-The Festival Goers; Trainer-Harry Fry; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-11/2
3RD-Countrywide Flame 5-11-10 Owner-Estio Pinnacle Racing; Trainer-John Quinn; Jockey-Denis O’Regan; SP-16/1
9 ran, Time-3m 59.35s; Dist-2½, 1¾

2012-WINNER-ROCK ON RUBY 7-11-10 Owner-The Festival Goers; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-11/1
2ND-Overturn 8-11-10 Owner-Tim Leslie; Trainer-Donald McCain; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-20/1
3RD-Hurricane Fly 8-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-4/6 Fav
10 ran, Time-3m 50.10s; Dist 3¾, 1¾

2011-WINNER-HURRICANE FLY 7-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Mrs Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-11/4 Fav
2ND-Peddlers Cross 6-11-10 Owner-Tim Leslie; Trainer-Donald McCain; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-9/2
3RD-Oscar Whisky 6-11-10 Owner- Walters Plant Hire Ltd; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-7/1
11 ran, Time-3m 53.71s; Dist 11⁄4 , 5

2010-WINNER-BINOCULAR 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-9/1
2ND-Khyber Kim 8-11-10 Owner-Caroline Mould; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-7/1
3RD-Zaynar 5-11-10 Owner- Men In Our Position; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Andrew Tinkler; SP-15/2
12 ran, Time-3m 53.80s; Dist-3½, 6 11/4 Fav Go Native (10th)

2009-WINNER-PUNJABI 6-11-10 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-22/1
2ND-Celestial Halo 5-11-10 Owner-The Stewart Family; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-17/2
3RD-Binocular 5-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-6/4 Fav
23 ran, Time-4m 0.90s; Dist- nk, hd

2008-WINNER-KATCHIT 5-11-10 Owner-D S J P Syndicate; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-10/1
2ND-Osana 6-11-10 Owner-Thomas Barr; Trainer-David Pipe; Jockey-Tom Scudamore; SP-9/2
3RD-Punjabi 5-11-10 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-25/1
15 ran, Time-4m 8.10s; Dist-1, 5 2/1 Fav Sizing Europe (14th)

2007-WINNER-SUBLIMITY 7-11-10 Owner-Bill Hennessy; Trainer-John Carr IRE; Jockey-Philip Carberry; SP-16/1
2ND-Brave Inca 9-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-11/2
3RD-Afsoun 5-11-10 Owner-Trevor Hemmings; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-28/1
10 ran, Time-3m 55.70s; Dist-3, nk 6/4 Fav Detroit City (6th)

2006-WINNER-BRAVE INCA 8-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/4 Fav
2ND-Macs Joy 7-11-10 Owner-Mac’s J Racing Syndicate; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-13/2
3RD-Hardy Eustace 9-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-11/2
18 ran. Time-3m 50.00s; Dist-1, 3½

2005-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 8-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-
7/2 Jt Fav
2ND-Harchibald 6-11-10 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-7/1
3RD-Brave Inca 7-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Barry Cash; SP-10/1
14 ran, Time-3m 51.50s; Dist-nk, nk 7/2 Jt Fav Back In Front (9th)

2004-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 7-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-33/1
2ND-Rooster Booster 10-11-10 Owner-Terry Warner; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-11/8 Fav
3RD-Intersky Falcon 7-11-10 Owner-Interskyracing.com & Jacqui O’Neill; Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Liam Cooper; SP-8/1
14 ran, Time-3m 54.50s; Dist-5, 4

2003-WINNER-ROOSTER BOOSTER 9-12-00 Owner-Terry Warner; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-9/2
2ND-Westender 7-12-00 Owner-Matt Archer & Jean Broadhurst; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Rodi Greene; SP-33/1
3RD-Rhinestone Cowboy 7-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-5/2
Fav 17 ran, Time-3m 54.70s; Dist-11, 3

2002-WINNER-HORS LA LOI III 7-12-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-James Fanshawe; Jockey-Dean Gallagher; SP-10/1
2ND-Marble Arch 6-12-00 Owner-Martin Wilson, Rory Sweet and Mary Wilson; Trainer-Hughie Morrison; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-25/1
3RD-Bilboa 5-11-09 Owner-Jorg Vasicek; Trainer-Francois Doumen FR; Jockey-Thierry Doumen; SP-14/1
15 ran, Time-3m 53.80s; Dist- 3, ½ 2/1 Fav Istabraq (pu)

2001 Cancelled

2000-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 8-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-8/15 Fav
2ND-Hors La Loi III 5-12-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-Francois Doumen FR; Jockey-Dean Gallagher; SP-11/1
3RD-Blue Royal 5-12-00 Owner-Lynn Wilson; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-16/1
12 ran, Time-3m 48.10s; Dist-4, nk

1999-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 7-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-4/9 Fav
2ND-Theatreworld 7-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Tommy Treacy; SP-16/1 3RD-French Holly 8-12-00 Owner-Kieran Flood; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy; Jockey-Andrew Thornton; SP-11/2
14 ran, Time 3m 56.7s; Dist-3½, 2½

1998-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 6-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-3/1 Fav
2ND-Theatreworld 6-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Tommy Treacy; SP-20/1
3RD-I’m Supposin 6-12-00 Owner-Nicholas Cooper; Trainer-Richard Rowe; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-6/1
18 ran, Time 3m 49.1s; Dist-12, 1

1997-WINNER-MAKE A STAND 6-12-00 Owner-Peter Deal; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/1
2ND-Theatreworld 5-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-33/1
3RD-Space Trucker 6-12-00 Owner-Elaine Queally; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-John Shortt; SP-9/2
17 ran, Time-3m 48.4s, Dist-5, ¾ 7/2 Fav Large Action (pu)

1996-WINNER-COLLIER BAY 6-12-00 Owner-Wally Sturt; Trainer-Jim Old; Jockey-Graham Bradley; SP-9/1
2ND-Alderbrook 7-12-00 Owner-Ernie Pick; Trainer-Kim Bailey; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-10/11 Fav
3RD-Pridwell 6-12-00 Owner-Jones, Berstock and Fleet Partnership; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Chris Maude;
SP-33/1 16 ran, Time-3m 59.0s, Dist-2½, 6

1995-WINNER-ALDERBROOK 6-12-00 Owner-Ernie Pick; Trainer-Kim Bailey; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-11/2
2ND-Large Action 7-12-00 Owner-Brian Stewart-Brown; Trainer-Oliver Sherwood; Jockey-Jamie Osborne; SP-4/1 Jt Fav
3RD-Danoli 7-12-00 Owner-Dan O’Neill; Trainer-Tom Foley IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-4/1 Jt Fav
14 ran, Time-4m 03.1s, Dist-5, 2