Nicky Henderson’s two-time Champion Hurdle winner was 2-13 to join elite company and win a third successive Fighting Fifth but was unable to peg back front-running Cornerstone Lad, given an enterprising front-running ride by Henry Brooke.
Many on social media were swift to criticise Barry Geraghty for possibly giving Buveur D’Air too much to do but the star hurdler did not jump with all his usual fluency and was found to have a piece of wood embedded in his coronary band, an area around the hoof, when he returned.
Veterinary staff at the Gosforth Park track successfully removed the fragment but Henderson, speaking to Racing TV at Newbury, where he enjoyed a treble, said it had left the eight-year-old “quite sore”.
Henderson spoke about Buveur D'Air after talking about his Newbury runners
The trainer added a cautious approach would be necessary, although Buveur D’Air was given the all-clear to travel back to his stables in Lambourn on Saturday evening.
“We have a little problem, there is a piece of wood apparently in his coronary band and he is quite sore. That’s been removed but we have to be cautious here,” Henderson said.
“We haven’t got the full story. We’ve just got to hope this can be sorted out and there’s no issues with it.”
At the time, Henderson expressed doubt as to whether Buveur D'Air would be able to travel back to Lambourn.
Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said later: “He’s on his way home. The vets are going to look at him tomorrow.
“He got a lump of birch on his coronary band between the hair and hoof. It was very sore and he was lame with it.
“The birch was removed and after settling down the vets were happy for him to travel home and we’ll know more on Monday.”
Geraghty said: “He’s sore, so we’ll just have to see how he is. Hopefully he’s OK.
“I only discovered it (the cut) after I pulled up. I was happy through the race and I thought I’d win jumping the last, but I just struggled in the last 100 yards.”
Cornerstone Lad, a five-year-old trained by Micky Hammond, was sent off at 16-1 stepping up from handicap company – but showed tremendous determination to foil the former Champion Hurdle hero.
Brooke was positive from the of aboard Cornerstone Lad, as nothing appeared to want to go one, and his mount settled nicely in front ahead of Nelson River and Buveur D’Air.
The lead had stretched to eight lengths at the top of the straight with three flights to jump.
Geraghty got serious on Buveur D’Air, but a mistake two out lost the favourite a bit of ground and he was two lengths down at the last hurdle.
Buveur D’Air joined Cornerstone Lad on the run-in and looked like he might land the spoils and become only the third horse to win the Fighting Fifth three times, but the leader, officially rated 19lb inferior, was a short head to the good at the line.
Silver Streak was three and a quarter lengths away third of the five runners.
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