Buveur D’Air produced a devastating display when easily downing Samcro to land the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
Given the manner of victory and the quality of the opposition, I would evaluate the performance of Buveur D’Air in last Saturday’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle as one of the best performances in recent times from a two mile hurdler.
Fresh from a wind operation since his last run at Cheltenham in March, the Nicky Henderson trained seven year old simply oozed class as he jumped like a cat, travelled like a dream and quickened like a machine.
I also loved his demeanour after crossing the line as he looked absolutely delighted with himself.
We are all aware of the importance of pre-race paddock watching, but personally I have made good money over the years from observing horses after a race and this fellow was full of himself.
The shrewdest judge I know, my father, mentioned to me after he won at Sandown last February, that Buveur D’Air might be carrying a slight undetected injury as something seemed to be bothering him. Maybe something indeed was amiss as he also looked sluggish the following month at Cheltenham? Perhaps that something amiss was his wind and he is now a better horse as a result of the operation?
All I can say is that everything I know screams at me that this was an improved performance from the Champion Hurdler.
Ante-post value at even money?
This might seem astonishing to say nearly four months before a Champion Hurdle, but Buveur D’Air’s current best odds of even money probably represent decent value. I base this on the following facts: he has now won his last eleven races including the last two running’s of the Champion Hurdle, he is unbeaten in almost three years, he has by far the best form in the race and he has a top trainer and the horse currently seems better than ever.
If he gets there in one piece then he will be incredibly hard to stop.
Samcro is not the second coming
To say that the Samcro bubble has now been well and truly burst might be a bit harsh, but it is clear that he is not the second coming that he was once hyped to be.
I would still say that he ran very well in second, and connections are to be commended for declaring post race that the six year old son of Germany will still be kept to hurdling for a crack at the Champion crown in March.
Owner and Ryanair chief Michael O Leary went on to imply that he is more hopeful of beating Buveur D’Air at Cheltenham due to the uphill finish. Maybe he was unaware of the fact that Newcastle also has a stiff uphill finish? Or maybe he feels that as a previous festival winner over two miles and five furlongs, that the particularly stiff Cheltenham finish over the two miles of the Champion Hurdle will suit his horse more than the pacier Buveur D’Air?
I would personally totally disagree with the logic of the latter scenario. It might apply generally, but not in this instance. Samcro looks to me like a horse who would actually be better on a flat track. I say this despite his many wins on uphill finishes, as he travels well with his head slightly high and doesn’t often find as much off the bridle as anticipated.
Eitherway, he has it all to do to turn the tables on his Newcastle conqueror.