'It was unreal' - Buveur D'Air set for Haydock return after amazing awayday
Dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air is set for his much anticipated return at Haydock next Saturday after an “absolutely amazing” awayday this week.
The JP McManus-owned ten-year-old has not run since finishing a short-head second to Cornerstone Lad in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle in November 2019. He suffered a freak injury in the Grade 1 at Newcastle and underwent surgery after returning from the race with a piece of wood in his foot.
A steady recuperation has ensued for the eight-time Grade 1 winner, who returned to Nicky Henderson’s Lambourn yard from his owner's Martinstown Stud in September and pleased everyone at Seven Barrows with his first schooling session and a subsequent awayday.
Henderson said: “Buveur D’Air is coming along extremely well and had an awayday on Wednesday and, I have got to say, he was absolutely amazing.
“To start with, he jumped five hurdles at home, which was the first time he’d left the ground since the Fighting Fifth in 2019, and he certainly hasn’t forgotten anything – he was brilliant.
“His recovery has been nothing short of remarkable and great credit should be given to all the team at Martinstown, including John O’Brien and Ger Kelly, who did such a good job putting his foot back together.
“I’ve always thought we were ahead of schedule, so the time came to give him a serious gallop and after schooling over our hurdles we went off elsewhere and jumped seven hurdles over a mile with two lead horses.
"Then one dropped out and another one joined in and they worked together on the flat for another mile, where they quickened and quickened. I have to say it was unreal, he didn’t half quicken up to the end.
“It was wonderful to watch because it’s been some journey to get him back, bearing in mind we were even questioning if he’d ever be able to race again. He has made fantastic progress, so much so I've decided he’s ready to go and I’m very much thinking about running him in The New One Unibet Hurdle at Haydock next Saturday.”
Buveur D’Air is a best price 25-1 with bet365 and William Hill to land the Champion Hurdle for a third time in March, with stablemate Epatante heading the betting at 9-4.
Nico de Boinville is set to ride Buveur D’Air in the Haydock Grade 2, a race Henderson landed with Afsoun in 2007. Henderson revealed in his Unibet blog: “Nico was on board on Wednesday and has done plenty of schooling on him over the years so he will ride him at Haydock because Aidan [Coleman] will be aboard Epatante in the Champion Hurdle, therefore it makes plenty of sense to do it this way.”
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