Geraghty Pilots Buveau D'Air To Cheltenham Feature Repeat

Ruby Walsh and Footpad are brilliant winners of the Racing Post Arkle

Ruby Walsh and Footpad are brilliant winners of the Racing Post Arkle

Buveur D'Air joined an elite group of horses by winning a second successive Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.

The favourite's stable companion Charli Parcs had cut out the pace, firstly in the company of former champion Faugheen (4/1), and then on his own.

And in a fierce battle down the home straight, Barry Geraghty rallied Buveur D'Air after falling behind to Melon with half a furlong remaining to win by half a length.

Nicky Henderson's decision to abort a novice chase campaign to revert to the smaller obstacles paid off spectacularly when he lifted the two-mile hurdling crown last March and having won each of his previous three starts this season with the minimum of fuss, he was the 4-6 favourite to become the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the race since Hardy Eustace in 2005.

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Henderson, saddling his seventh Champion Hurdle victor, said: "It was a good race, a proper race". It was job done. That was a big relief.

Had Melon won it would have seen Mullins close the gap to Henderson in the battle for Cheltenham supremacy, but he did have three winners in the day.

"It's been a long old winter and this makes it worth it".

The festival showpiece, the Gold Cup, is held on Friday.

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Not many were expecting him to start against Liverpool and he had a good match, not just about scoring goals. We are all in it together. "Sometimes you are in the team, sometimes you are not".

Mullins' Benie Des Dieux ran out a shock victor of the Mares Hurdle, as odds-on favourite Apple's Jade could only finish a disappointing third.

"We were anxious last week with the snow that it might even have been cancelled but I think it's going to be busier than ever", he said.

Buveur D'Air's win saw English trainer Nicky Henderson and Irish owner JP McManus extend their existing Champion Hurdle race-records to seven wins apiece.

The Tom George-trained Summerville Boy claimed the opening race of the festival - the Supreme Novices' Hurdle - at a price of 9-to-1.

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The eight-year-old woke up lame on Monday, sparking panic among punters who had backed him for the Queen Monther Champion Chase, Wednesday's feature race at the Cheltenham Festival.

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