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Buveur D'Air ready for three-runner Contenders Hurdle mission

Fri 2 Feb 2018

Connections of Buveur D'Air hope the reigning Champion Hurdle hero can pass what looks a simple task on paper in the Betfred 'Supports Jack Berry House' Contenders Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.

The seven-year-old faces just two rivals, John Constable and Cap'N, as he bids to land this Listed contest for the second season running on his way to Cheltenham.

This race has been the plan since the Nicky Henderson-trained gelding won the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, as it fits in nicely ahead of next month's Festival.

"There are two rivals there. We're looking forward to running him. Nicky's very happy with him and we hope he gets round safe and sound," said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.

"It's a lovely race to get him out. It worked well for us last year and let's hope it does so again."

Barry Geraghty expects Buveur D'Air to take all the beating, as McManus' retained jockey travels over from Ireland to take the mount despite the attraction of the opening day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

"Buveur D'Air is in good form. He has won his two races this season easily and Nicky has been happy with him since he beat The New One in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton," Geraghty said in his blog for At The Races.

"He won this race last year, it was his last run before the Champion Hurdle, and hopefully he can win it again on Saturday.

"It is probably a match between us and John Constable, but he is a good horse. He didn't run badly in the International Hurdle last time, and that was his first run since he ran on the Flat in the Cesarewitch.

"He was impressive in winning the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock back in May and he won the Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen. He should give us a race but on ratings we should have a little bit in hand."

Trainer Evan Williams accepts the challenge facing John Constable, but is happy to have the opportunity to take on the two-mile king.

"It's nice to be a part of it. It's not his time of year. He's more of a spring and autumn horse, but we're there to take our chance and see how we get on," said Williams.

"He ran a very good race behind My Tent Or Yours at Cheltenham. We were giving him weight and the ground was particularly against us.

"It was his first run back. He disappointed on the Flat and it was then just a matter of having a look at where to run him. He's a smashing horse. He's just taking on a brilliant horse, a superstar.

"It's just a privilege to be taking part against a Champion Hurdle winner."

Connections of Cap'N will be hoping to pick up the £3,210 prize money for third place just by completing the course.

Claire Dyson's seven-year-old has little chance on all known form having been well beaten on his hurdling debut at Huntingdon last week.

Terrefort will attempt to give his owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede a fourth successive win in the Betfred TV Scilly Isles Novices' Chase after Top Notch, Bristol De Mai and Gitane Du Berlais.

The five-year-old French import made a highly-promising debut for the Henderson stable when landing a novice handicap chase at Huntingdon last month.

As the only five-year-old in the field, Terrefort receives 3lb from his four rivals.

Paul Nicholls is excited at the prospects of Cyrname, who looked a smart recruit when winning the Grade Two Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton last month on only his third start over fences.

"I'm really looking forward to running him, it looks a good race, probably the best of its type this season over here," said the Ditcheat trainer.

"He's a progressive horse, since he's jumped fences he's done nothing but improve so I'm really looking forward to it."

Neil Mulholland reports Kalondra to be ready to return to the fray seven weeks on from his victory at Cheltenham.

"He seems to come out of the race at Cheltenham very well. We're happy with him," said the Wiltshire handler.

"We've freshened him up and it's fingers crossed he'll run a good race.

"He's going the right way and we hope he can keep it up."

Both of West Approach's victories over fences have come at around two and a half miles and he drops back down in trip after two failed attempts at three miles.

Trainer Colin Tizzard is now convinced West Approach is better at shorter distances, despite being a half-brother to King George VI Chase and Stayers' Hurdle winner Thistlecrack.

"He was third in the Kauto Star and he was bang there at two and a half miles, it looked as if he was going the best," Tizzard told Racing UK.

"He didn't quite get home and because he's Thistlecrack's brother we've always thought he'd stay three miles when he probably doesn't, this is probably his trip."

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