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Sandown Saturday Review: Buveur d'Air Shortens For Champion Hurdle Following Events At Sandown And Leopardstown

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Reigning Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air had little more than a schooling session in taking Sandown’s Betfred ‘ Supports Jack Berry House ‘ Contenders Hurdle on Saturday afternoon. A cosy length and three quarter victory over the useful but outclassed John Constable was as expected for the 1-16 favourite, the only other participant being the moderate 100-1 chance Cap’n who trailed in a well beaten last of three, although the £3,210 earned by the mount of Brendan Powell would have been greatly appreciated by connections in a contest ignored by all other possible contenders.

Revised odds in the region of 2-5 about a second Champion Hurdle in March for the seven-year-old was more to do with the failure of Faugheen in Leopardstown’s Irish Champion Hurdle later in the afternoon when unable to repel the late challenge of Stayers’ Hurdle-bound Supasundae than the result of Sandown’s Listed race. Opposition to JP McManus’s son of Crillon for the hurling crown is looking thin on the ground and with only Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle and the Morbattle Hurdle at Kelso the only two remaining trials before the big one on Tuesday 13th March a serious challenger to Nicky Henderson’s charge is looking highly unlikely.

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The feature race on Sandown’s card was the Grade 1 Betfred TV Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and despite a turnout of just five runners the 2m 4f contest produced a cracking finish with Nicky Henderson’s ex-French recruit Terrefort justifying 15-8 favouritism by a neck from chief market rival Cyrname from the Paul Nicholls stable.

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“ You couldn’t watch anything slower at home “ was how Henderson described the grey’s lack of enthusiasm following the five-year-old’s schooling session over ten fences under Daryl Jacob, causing his handler to wonder “ how he was going to get round here. “ The son of Martaline may save his best for the racecourse but there is no doubting his jumping ability as Sandown’s railway fences proved no problem whatsoever for the lightly-raced gelding.

As advised in this column recently at 20-1 ( non-runner-no-bet ) for the JLT Novices’ Chase at the festival, and despite connections refusing to name a target for the horse, Terrefort looks an ideal candidate for that race and is still worth considering at the revised 12-1 available with Paddy Power ( NRNB ).

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