Cesarewitch hero Buzz has his team dreaming of Stayers' Hurdle target
The Champion Hurdle is one of Nicky Henderson's favourite races, but the Lambourn legend instead has his sights firmly fixed on the Stayers' Hurdle with Buzz, who proved a class apart in the Coral Hurdle.
Stayers' Hurdle sponsors Paddy Power went 8-1 (from 12) for their race, while Coral are the same price (from 14) after Buzz moved stylishly through the 2m3½f contest before sealing a cosy success in the hands of Nico de Boinville.
His previous start had come under champion Flat jockey Oisin Murphy, who partnered the grey to victory in the Cesarewitch, a performance which suggests stamina is his strong suit.
"He will come back here for the Long Walk Hurdle before Christmas and we'll find out about three miles," Henderson said.
"There's no point coming back to two miles and there's nothing at two and a half, so we'll try three."
A quarter of the prize-money earned by Buzz, who races in the familiar lime and yellow silks of Thurloe Thoroughbreds, goes to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and Henderson added: "It's a fantastic cause and great the horse is contributing, while Thurloe have been friends of ours for a long time, so it's lovely."
Thurloe founder James Stafford's daughter Jess agrees and said: "He's definitely a Stayers' Hurdle horse. A lot of people in certain media outlets didn't think he could be and had too much speed, but he's proved it."
Gold Cup dream
Paul Barber has won two Gold Cups and Paul Vogt would love to bag one as well, and the owners are dreaming that Flemenstide might one day take them to Cheltenham's holy grail after he struck in the novice hurdle.
Barber, trainer Paul Nicholls' landlord, said: "I was thrilled with his jumping as he's only a big baby.
"I look upon the horse - and so does he [Vogt] - that if we're really lucky he'd be good enough to run in a Gold Cup."
The Somerset cheese kingpin won the chasing championship with See More Business and Denman and added: "He does remind me of See More Business. He's a nice, big horse and if we're lucky enough to even enter this fella in a Gold Cup it would be marvellous."
Vogt is better known as the owner of King George VI Chase hero Frodon and would not mind taking a steady approach with the six-year-old, who is from the family of Nicholls' former star two-miler Master Minded.
"We're used to being patient," he said, "and full credit to Paul [Barber] for finding the horse in Ireland."
Nicholls and Bryony Frost completed a double thanks to Jeremy Pass in the novice handicap chase, which was run in support of the Ebony Horse Club, whose patron The Duchess of Cornwall was on hand for presentation duties along with members of the Brixton-based riding academy.
Potter quids in
The richest race on the card was the £85,000 Gerard Bertrand Hurst Park Chase, which was won by the Sam Thomas-trained Before Midnight.
He was led into the winner's enclosure by part-owner James Potter, who punched the air with delight and said: "That was good, wasn't it, and I punched the air when he won at Cheltenham last time too!
"It was a good prize today and Sam's done a fantastic job with him."
Buzz's jockey and former trainer, Nico de Boinville and Hughie Morrison, combined to capture the bumper with Our Jester.
"He's from a wonderful family," said Morrison. "His mother Cill Rialaig won at Royal Ascot and his half-sister Urban Artist has done very well, and the jockey has ridden for the Pangfield partners four times and won four times."
No trainer has had more winners this season than Fergal O'Brien, who enjoyed another when Tequila Blaze outgunned her rivals in the mares' handicap hurdle.
"We've got a brilliant team and I'm so proud of Fergal, who runs the show so well," said his partner and assistant Sally Randell before preparing herself for an apt post-race beverage with winning owners The Tequila Tipplers.
"We'll be having a right old drink - don't worry about that!"
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