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Cheltenham Festival 2018: Buveur D'Air wins Champion Hurdle again

Cheltenham Festival 2018: Buveur D'Air wins Champion Hurdle again

However, last-minute scares, such as his sudden but apparently brief lameness on Monday, make me nervous, and it wouldn't be the biggest surprise to see POLITOLOGUE (FR), whom Altior beat last time at Newbury, creep a little closer this time, and perhaps even reverse the form in the more testing conditions.

Brilliant though Douvan was - and Mullins once described the 2016 Arkle Trophy victor as "like another species" - it is perhaps asking a little too much of the now 10-year-old to come back after a full year off with injuries and various niggles to win the biggest prize in his calendar.

This race was one of the best of the Festival previous year with Might Bite winning a thriller.

The four-day festival is the highlight of the jumps season in British horse racing, culminating in the Gold Cup on Friday. But first, he aimed for a first Grade One victory at Leopardstown.

He showed here a year ago this track holds no fears for him with a cracking effort when second behind Penhill in the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle, on a surface that was all too quick.

Verdict: Black Op (e/w) to provide value against Samcro.

Buveur D'Air became the first horse to land back-to-back renewals of the Grade One feature since Hardy Eustace in 2004 and 2005.

Geraghty, who had to miss last year's Festival through injury, was winning the Champion Hurdle for a third time. He then went down by less than a length to Monalee at Leopardstown over two miles and five.

Nicky Henderson's stable star has to overcome a two pronged attack from the Willie Mullins squad, both owned by Rich Ricci, and with Ruby Walsh having chosen to ride Douvan.

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MS Dhoni will return and play for Chennai Super Kings , a team back in the IPL after a two-month ban. It seems that Dhoni , the flawless family man that he is, is enjoying every bit of it.

It would be a fairytale should Ruth Jefferson follow in her late father Malcolm's footsteps and secure a Festival victor with Mount Mews, but 2016 victor Diamond King may hold the key. He's a great-looking horse and I'd love to cheer Bryony Frost home.

Verdict: The 2016 victor Diamond King can score again for Elliott and Davy Russell.

The Mullins hope looked set to win easily on heavy ground at Limerick over Christmas only to fall at the last.

Coming here, you are banking on a victor. While I'm sure Altior would have won in hand, Charbel is 50/1. Min is nearly the forgotten horse but took the Grade Two Dublin Chase in fine style at Leopardstown. It was following on from Mall Dini the year before and I never thought lightning would strike twice, but it was fantastic.

NO favourite has prevailed in the last seven runnings, so a chance is taken on Knight Destroyer.

G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper and will be partnered by Patrick Mullins, who already has a victor on the board this Festival.

Verdict: Knight Destroyer is fresh.

He's proved he is very good - you don't win these back-to-back unless you are very good, and he's won everything all season.

All the vibes from Cullentra suggest that this hooded Gigginstown runner has improved since scoring at Down Royal.


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