Henderson makes right call about Buveur D'Air

Nico de Boinville (centre) celebrates with Trainer Nicky Henderson (second from left) after winning the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase with Sprinter Sacre  during Ladies Day of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse

NICKY Henderson was thankful he gave into temptation as Buveur D’Air continued his recent domination of the Imagine Cruising First In The Frame Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.

Having contemplated stepping the five-year-old up to two-and-a-half miles for a shot at the EZ Trader Mersey Novices’ Hurdle today, the Seven Barrows handler was rewarded for his decision to keep the five-year-old to the extended two-mile trip with a fifth victory in the last seven renewals of the Grade One contest.

With neither of his Supreme Novice’ Hurdle conquerors Min or stable companion Altior in opposition, the 11-4 winner still faced a formidable-looking opponent in Limini.

Held up early on by Noel Fehily, he made a forward move much sooner than he did at Prestbury Park before joining leader Petit Mouchoir over the last.

Despite needing almost all the run-in to prevail Buveur D’Air eventually got up under a strong drive from Fehily to prevail by a neck from the Willie Mullins-trained runner, with the latter’s Limini a further eight lengths adrift in third.

Henderson said: “We’ve always wondered whether this fellow needed to go up to two and a half (miles) and that was the big question about today.

“It was either take on Yorkhill (over two and a half) or Limini. We’ve stuck to two and we’ve got away with it.

Nigel Twiston-Davies is hoping Ballyoptic can follow in the footsteps of Thistlecrack after taking another major leap forward to capture the Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle.

With the Colin Tizzard-trained gelding capturing the race 12 months ago before going on to dominate the staying hurdle division this season, the Naunton handler is keeping his fingers crossed the six-year-old can now follow a similar route

Looking booked for second at best the 9-1 shot took full advantage of leader Bellshill’s drift late on to get up close home in the Grade One contest and take victory by a neck.


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