Nicky Henderson keen to get Kempton weekend workout into Buveur D'Air

Tue 20 Feb 2018

Nicky Henderson is praying for some help from the weather to allow Buveur D'Air to have a racecourse gallop at Kempton on Saturday.

The seven-year-old is unbeaten in three starts this season, sauntering to success in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown, to ensure he will be long odds-on to successfully defend his crown in the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in three weeks' time.

Henderson is keen to crank up the JP McManus-owned gelding's work to ensure he is at concert pitch for the first day of the Festival and feels a racecourse outing would be hugely beneficial.

Speaking at a media morning at Seven Barrows on Tuesday, he said: "I've got to speak to Barney (Clifford, clerk of the course at Kempton). I wanted to work him before racing on Saturday, but he is worried about the weather as he has got to cover it up, in which case we won't be able to work before racing.

"Buveur D'Air takes an awful lot of work, but he did work this morning. He has not really had a race yet (this season) and he didn't have a race at Sandown. I would like to work him before racing on Saturday just to get him revved up.

"I would really like to go to a racecourse on a raceday as it is more significant. Raceday just gives them that little more adrenaline and he can do that bit more."

Buveur D'Air is as short as 2-5 for the Festival highlight on March 13 and Henderson points to his slick jumping as his most potent weapon.

"His great asset is he is so quick (over his hurdles). He is frightening. His knees just flick the top," the trainer continued.

"It is absolute precision and it's incredible to watch. You have got to be deadly accurate to do it. If you get it wrong by one inch you can see what is going to happen.

"I think he is improving and getting stronger."

Buveur D'Air could be joined by up to three stablemates as Henderson bids for a seventh Champion Hurdle success.

Henderson said: "Hopefully if all goes well there will be Buveur D'Air, My Tent Or Yours, maybe Charli Parcs and they (owners) are still very keen to run Verdana Blue. Call Me Lord won't join them."

My Tent Or Yours was runner-up in the race for a third time 12 months ago and earned another tilt by winning the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.

"Tent is on old legs, bless him. He is spectacular. He worked this morning and he will probably go to Kempton next Tuesday, I would suggest," the trainer continued.

"He has been second in three Champion Hurdles and had his day in the sunshine in the International. He is not going without reward and we have literally kept him for this.

"Charli Parcs ran a very good race in the Gerry Feilden. I genuinely think he just wants good ground and, as you know, I think he's a talented horse. Poor old Charli might have to lead Buveur on Saturday as you have got to find a pacemaker for him.

"Verdana Blue wants good ground, it is simple as that. If it was good ground, she would run.

"Technically she is not quite up to that standard but she is at home."

Buveur D'Air will be one of the major hopes in a formidable team of horses making the trip from Lambourn to the Cotswolds, and Henderson is keen to focus on his own string rather than worrying about rivals from other yards.

He said: "Our job is to concentrate on what we are doing and not worry what Willie (Mullins), Gordon (Elliott) or Paul (Nicholls) are doing.

"We've got to keep our heads down for three more weeks and try to make sure we don't make any mistakes and cross our fingers we don't get any hiccups."

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