Buveur D'Air heads 13-strong field for the Champion Hurdle

Sun 11 Mar 2018
2017 Winter Festival - Day Two - Punchestown Racecourse Faugheen will be equipped with first-time cheekpieces in the Champion Hurdle (PA)

By staff

Buveur D'Air will face 12 rivals when he defends his crown in the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Nicky Henderson's charge is unbeaten in three starts this season and is odds-on across the board to win back-to-back renewals since Hardy Eustace in 2004 and 2005.

Henderson also saddles three-times Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours, Charli Parcs and the only mare in the field, Verdana Blue.

Willie Mullins also launches a four-pronged assault, with 2015 Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen joined by stablemates Melon, Wicklow Brave and Yorkhill. Faugheen is fitted with cheek pieces for the first time.

Faugheen's owner, Rich Ricci, told Racing UK's Luck On Sunday programme: "We're looking for a little edge to give him his spark back.

"He certainly likes Cheltenham and he is, by all accounts, in very good order. He's as good as they can get him to be.

"Cheekpieces for the first time will add something a little different."

Gordon Elliott's Mick Jazz and the Henry de Bromhead-trained Identity Thief complete the Irish challenge.

Dan Skelton's Ch'Tibello, the Evan Williams-trained John Constable and the supplemented Elgin from Alan King's yard complete the line-up.

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