Sport Cheltenham

Sunday 23 April 2017

JP all smiles as he notches 50th festival winner

Jockey Noel Fehily with the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy, and owner John McManus Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
Jockey Noel Fehily with the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy, and owner John McManus Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

Sean O'Grady

JP McManus claimed his 50th winner at the festival as star turn Buveur D'Air came home in the hotly contested Champion Hurdle.

A smiling JP said it "doesn't get much better than that" after the Nicky Henderson-trained horse stormed up the fabled hill to glory with Noel Fehily onboard.

McManus had given himself every chance to scoop the feature race on day one, as Buveur D'Air was joined by his duo Yanworth and My Tent Or Yours in the 12-strong field.

The crafty businessman admitted afterwards that trainer Henderson convinced him to run Buveur D'Air in the Champion Hurdle.

"Full marks to Nicky, I wouldn't have run Buveur D'Air in the Champion Hurdle, but he was a little insistent on it. More than once. So I knew he was serious and thankfully I listened," he said.

"Nicky would give you your way always and this was before Faugheen and Annie Power were scratched. Nicky is usually right. It's a great occasion. Great place to be."

Cork jockey Noel Fehily was overjoyed with his win, having previously won the Champion Hurdle in 2012 with Rock On Ruby.

He said: "It doesn't matter to me whether it was a vintage Champion Hurdle or not. Buveur D'Air is a class animal and I won a Grade One at Aintree on him last year. He has been a very good horse to me and I love him to bits."

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Irish Independent

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