Buveur D'Air retains Champion Hurdle in Cheltenham thriller

Ruby Walsh surged to victory on Footpad in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase

Ruby Walsh surged to victory on Footpad in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase

4/6 FAVOURITE Buveur D'Air was pushed all the way as he retained his Unibet Champion Hurdle crown at the Cheltenham festival this afternoon.

"He proved there he's a better horse than a year ago".

With his stable companion Charli Parcs ensuring a sound gallop alongside the 2015 champion Faugheen, Buveur D'Air was given a nice lead into the race and although his jumping was not as sure-footed as usual, he arrived on the scene travelling powerfully after jumping the second flight from the finish.

Henderson, saddling his seventh Champion Hurdle victor, said: "It was a good race, a proper race".

What time does racing start?

He is a young horse and he has done everything right the whole way.

"That is a big relief as you are expected to collect and he has done".

Looking to future plans, Henderson added: "He can run again and we have four weeks until Aintree". Jack (Kennedy) said he didn't pick up as well on soft ground as he would have liked.

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Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh combined for their first victor at this year's Festival with 6-to-5-on favourite Footpad claiming the Arkle.

"It's been a long old winter and this makes it worth it".

Mullins continued: "Yorkhill is just not performing, it's a real head scratcher, sometimes horses take a year out".

Mullins and Walsh enjoyed another triumph in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle as Benie Des Dieux triumphed, while the former also saw his son Patrick win the National Hunt Chase aboard Rathvinden.

The Tom George-trained Summerville Boy claimed the opening race of the festival - the Supreme Novices' Hurdle - at a price of 9-to-1. I tried to save as much as I could on the turn in and go for him as late as possible and he found when it was needed.

Coo Star Sivola won a thrilling Handicap Chase after holding off the valiant challenge of Shantou Flyer, and Mister Whitaker - ridden by Brian Hughes and trained by Mick Channon - won the day's final race, the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase.

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