Hot favourite Buveur D’Air claimed his second Champion Hurdle last Tuesday but whether the gelding can join the likes of See You Then and Istabraq as a triple winner of the championship contest remains to be seen.
Laurina – 16-1 with Paddy Power for 2019 Champion Hurdle
With credible rivals thin on the ground there was an air of inevitability about the victory of the Nicky Henderson-trained Buveur D’Air who recorded back-to-back wins in the Unibet-sponsored Champion Hurdle last week, although the son of Crillon was far from impressive in seeing off the persistent challenge of runner-up Melon in a less than vintage renewal.
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Sent off the 4-6 favourite the mount of Barry Geraghty’s biggest danger appeared to be 2015 hero Faugheen but the ten-year-old had looked a shadow of his former self this season and so it proved as the Rich Ricci-owned gelding trailed in a well beaten sixth, some twenty two lengths behind the winner.
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Since it’s inception in 1927 only five horses ( Hatton’s Grace, Sir Ken, Persian War, See You Then and Istabraq ) have won the hurdling crown on three occasions and Buveur D’Air is no bigger than 7-2 ( William Hill and Unibet ) to join that illustrious group in 12 month’s time. Even the seven-year-old’s most fervent supporters would agree that the horse would have an inferiority complex among such exalted company, so the question is which potential rival is most likely to spoil the part come next March.
It is unlikely that any of those who finished behind Buveur D’Air this year are capable of turning the tables while festival novice winners Summerville Boy and Farclas, while full of promise, need to move up a level to prove Champion Hurdle class which leaves Samcro and Laurina as the two horses with the greatest potential.
Samcro looked a superstar in the making when winning the Ballymore but it is unlikely a Champion Hurdle campaign will be the plan for a horse whose future clearly lies over fences, leaving the Willie Mullins-trained Laurina as the most likely threat to the reigning champion next year. The five-year-old has hardly come out of second gear in winning all three starts since joining the Closutton team and put up probably the most impressive performance at the festival in the Trull House Mares’ Novice Hurdle. The daughter of Spanish Moon will find things tougher when taking on Champion Hurdle horses but the sky is the limit for this exciting mare.