Buveur D'Air successfully defends his Unibet Champion Hurdle Crown

Buveur D'Air successfully defends his Unibet Champion Hurdle Crown

Buveur D'Air became only the third horse to win consecutive Champion Hurdles in thirty years following a hard-earned victory on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.

But, either way, Melon slipped through on the inside and he turned for home a neck up on Buveur d'Air, an advantage he maintained until three quarters of the way up the hill.

Buveur D'Air (Barry Geraghty) and Faugheen went eyeball to eyeball in the latter stages of the race before the 2015 Champion Hurdler cried enough.

Henderson, saddling his seventh Champion Hurdle victor, said: "It was a good race, a proper race". It's just been in the back of my mind and has always anxious me. He is a young horse and he has done everything right the whole way. That was a big relief.

"My Tent Or Yours is a non runner in the Unibet Champion Hurdle today on veterinary advice", Henderson added.

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".

There had been suggestions that owner Rich Ricci wanted Douvan to instead go in the Ryanair to avoid a clash with stablemate Min but Mullins says jockey Ruby Walsh had the final call.

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. "He definitely made two serious mistakes, if not three, and I thought he'd do well to finish in the first four, but he just kept picking up".

In the opening Supreme Novice Hurdle, Summerville Boy ran out a narrow victor with a great ride from Noel Fehily.

The eight-year-old woke up lame on Monday, sparking panic among punters who had backed him for the Queen Monther Champion Chase, Wednesday's feature race at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Nick Williams-trained Coo Star Sivola (5-1 favourite)
clung on grimly to provide jockey Lizzie Kelly with her first Festival success in the Ultima Handicap Chase.

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