Christmas Hurdle the next target for Buveur

BUVEUR D'Air teed up a possible pre-Cheltenham clash with Faugheen as he made the perfect return to action in the Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

Nicky Henderson

Last season’s Champion Hurdle hero outclassed his four rivals and cantered to victory under a motionless Barry Geraghty.

The Willie Mullins-trained Faugheen, the 2015 two-mile king at Cheltenham, impressed at Punchestown recently on his comeback from injury and the pair could clash in Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day.

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“He was very good. His jumping is just rapid,” said Geraghty. “If you look over the years, the real Champion Hurdlers like Istabraq, Hurricane Fly, Hardy Eustace – they just bend their knees and take off. They gain ground and fill up their lungs because it’s so natural and easy for them.

“Faugheen looked really good at Punchestown, but this horse feels more physical this year than last year. I relish the challenge. He’s only six going on seven so really he should still be getting better.

“It felt like he is, he’s physically stronger this year, he feels sharper, too. Faugheen is obviously very good, too, but I’d be looking forward to it (Boxing Day at Kempton), we’d relish the challenge.”

Northallerton farmer Peter Atkinson’s mare Irish Roe continues to go from strength to strength. A top Bumper performer last season, she’s now won three out of four starts over hurdles after her latest success at Doncaster under in-form North Yorkshire jockey Henry Brooke.