Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle
Grade 1, Newcastle 14:10
£120,000 added, 4yo plus,
2m 98y, Class 1  
Saturday 2nd December 2017

1 Buveur D'Air 1/6F
2 Irving 9/2
3 Flying Tiger 9/1
5 ran Distances: 3½l, 1l,
Time: 4m 10.10s (slow by 29.10s)

Buveur D'Air wins with ease in his first race sine April

Buveur D'Air
© Racehorse Photos
Buveur D'Air

Last season's Champion Hurdle winner went off the 1-6 favourite and Nicky Henderson's six-year-old promptly outclassed his four rivals.

Katgary and Mirsaale shared the early running, before Buveur D'Air jumped into the lead at the third-last flight and cantered to victory under a motionless Barry Geraghty.

Irving, two-time winner of the Grade One contest, was flattered by being only three and a half lengths behind in second place. Flying Tiger was third.

Geraghty said: "He was very good. His jumping is just rapid.

"If you look over the years, the real Champion Hurdlers like Istabraq, Hurricane Fly, Hardy Eustace - they just bend their knees and take off. They gain ground and fill up their lungs because it's so natural and easy for them.

"I rode him work 10 days ago at Newbury and he worked nicely. He worked on Sunday morning and Nicky was buzzing about him and he was very happy with his weight, which was a good indication.

"He was the same weight going to Aintree at the end of last season. He holds his condition well through the season and you were fairly sure he was fairly close to being ready. He was in great shape and it was a good performance.

"Faugheen looked really good at Punchestown, but this horse feels more physical this year than last year. I relish the challenge."

Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: "That was very easy to watch. He jumped great and Barry said he felt fantastic.

"He handles that ground really well which is unusual for a Champion Hurdler, but he goes through it great.

"To say he's won two over fences, he's such a good hurdler, so quick.

"It will probably be Kempton (Christmas Hurdle) next, where else is there to go?"

He added: "I know Faugheen might come, as he has done in the past, but there are other options in Ireland for him without having to travel before Cheltenham.

"We'll have to see how everything is."

A delighted Henderson watched on from Newbury, where he said: "It was good and he did what he had to do. Anything else would have probably been disappointing. Thank goodness it is over and done with and hopefully it's onwards and upwards now.

"He had to do what he did to keep everyone happy. Under the circumstances it was great. He was fat the other day here at Newbury.

"I would have thought the Christmas Hurdle will now be the plan."

Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle
£110,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 98y, Class 1
5 ran
Going: Soft, Heavy in places

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Buveur D'Air (FR) 1/6f B J Geraghty
N J Henderson 6
2nd Irving 9/2 Sean Bowen
P F Nicholls 9
3rd 1 Flying Tiger (IRE) 9/1 T Scudamore
Nick Williams 4
4th 8 Katgary (FR) 66/1 Craig Nichol
Miss P Robson 7
5th 17 Mirsaale 33/1 Callum Bewley
K Dalgleish 7

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