Sunday 16 December 2018

Faugheen and Buveur D'Air head Champion Hurdle list

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Racing Post
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Racing Post

Thomas Kelly

Faugheen and Buveur D'Air are among 23 entries for the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 13.

All things going well in the meantime, 2015 hero Faugheen will bid to redeem himself after being pulled up at Leopardstown over Christmas, while the Nicky Henderson-trained Buveur D'Air will attempt to defend the crown he won 12 months ago.

The pair are also entered for the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on February 3, although Henderson has indicated an alternative race at Sandown would be the preferred option for his charge.

Possibles

Willie Mullins has a total of six possibles for the Cheltenham showpiece, with Melon, Yorkhill and Min among them.

Henderson's support team includes three-times Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours, Call Me Lord, Charli Parcs and Verdana Blue.

Gordon Elliott has Apple's Jade, Mick Jazz and Campeador among the contenders, and the other two Irish entries are outsiders Arcenfete and Identity Thief, both supplied by Henry de Bromhead.

A winner on the Flat for the Wertheimer brothers and now owned by Gigginstown House Stud, the six-year-old Arcenfete has not raced since recording a comfortable victory on his jumping debut at Auteuil in June 2016.

Other notable contenders include Nigel Twiston-Davies's popular 10-year-old The New One and last season's Triumph Hurdle hero Defi Du Seuil, trained by Philip Hobbs.

Elsewhere, Dunvegan is set to be tested in better company at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown next month.

Pat Fahy's charge opened his account in some style at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day, having been runner-up on his first two outings in bumpers.

The Carlow handler feels the French-bred has improved with each run and has thrived at home since his victory.

The five-year-old chased home exciting prospects Rapid Escape and Hollowgraphic on his first couple of outings, and Fahy is keen to test his charge again against the best around.

"I'd say he'll go to Leopardstown for the bumper and then we'll take it from there," said Fahy. "We were contemplating going hurdling with him, but it's too late in the season now.

Improved

"He'll probably go to Leopardstown and let that define where we go next. He'll be in against horses that have beaten him, but I think he might have improved.

"He's definitely looking better than he has all year, so there's definitely improvement there on looks and if that transforms into ability, it will be brilliant. He has put on weight and you don't do that unless you are thriving and really enjoying what you are doing."

Meanwhile, the meeting lost to snow at Fairyhouse yesterday has been rescheduled for February 14. Entries will close by midday on February 8, with declarations to run to be made by 10am on February 13.

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