Saturday 24 June 2017

WATCH - 'We could have looked very silly' - Nicky Henderson on JP McManus' role in Buveur D'Air triumph

Cheltenham , United Kingdom - 14 March 2017; Trainer Nicky Henderson, left, jockey Noel Fehily, centre, and owner JP McManus after winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy with Buveur D'Air during the Cheltenham Racing Festival at Prestbury Park, in Cheltenham, England. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Cheltenham , United Kingdom - 14 March 2017; Trainer Nicky Henderson, left, jockey Noel Fehily, centre, and owner JP McManus after winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy with Buveur D'Air during the Cheltenham Racing Festival at Prestbury Park, in Cheltenham, England. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Nicky Henderson lauded JP McManus after Buveur D'Air gave the popular Limerick owner his 50th festival success on Cleeve Hill.

The new Champion Hurdle victor began the season as a novice chaser but Henderson felt that he needed to send his charge back over hurdles.

While he came up with the goods first at Haydock and then at Warwick, Henderson saw an opening in a two-mile hurdling division devoid of the last two champions Faugheen and Annie Power and decided to switch back. It proved a masterstroke.

Had it gone wrong, the trainer, who has had the most winners in the history of the Festival, and the connections would have been left with egg on their face.

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He was clearly thankful of the trust JP McManus had in his judgement.

"We were coming to Barry (Geraghty) on trials day here and saying 'look, we're going down the wrong road for the time being and he needed to revert back to hurdles as we had unfinished business," he said

"It's worked and thank goodness it has because you'd have lost his novice chase season by switching and if I got that wrong, it would have looked a very silly decision but the great thing about JP and his team is they are a great team.

"They are great to train for. When I said hurdling was what I wanted to do, they were totally behind it and that was great and ever since then, that has been the plan."

Henderson also confirmed that My Tent Or Yours, second at the Festival for a fourth time (three in the Champion Hurdle), could go to Punchestown but the winner is unlikely to do so.

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