Buveur D’Air Slams Rivals in Fighting Fifth at Newcastle

Buveur D’Air once again showed the racing public just how special he is with an exceptional win in the Fighting Fifth hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday. The Nicky Henderson trained horse cleared away from his main market rival Samcro, and left Summerville Boy trailing even further behind. There are no other words to describe this performance other than special.

The official winning distance for the race was eight lengths, and if needed it probably could have been further. Barry Gerraghty was sat with his horse swinging on the bridle with two hurdles to go, breezing past the pushed along Samcro without Gerraghty moving a muscle. Summerville Boy was a further 13 lengths behind in third place, and unless something comes to light about that performance you have to feel he is going to struggle stepping up into open company this season, after winning the Supreme Novice Hurdle last season at the festival.

Buveur D’Air won five out of five in his first season after being a novice back during the 2016/17 season, and the first two of those were actually novice chasers. He won those despite looking a natural, which eventually led to him being reverted back to hurdles, and he hasn’t looked back since. He went on to win three hurdle races to complete a 100% record that season, with the last of those victories coming in the 2017 Champion Hurdle.

In 2018, he ran four times, winning every race again and once more his final run of the season was a victory in the Champions Hurdle, landing back to back titles. Nicky Henderson has been accused of swerving races and finding weak opportunities for this horse in the build up to Cheltenham, and it is fair to say that outside of the festival the race on Saturday was his toughest since reverting back to hurdling.

However, he didn’t have any trouble in seeing off his rivals, and that was despite the fact that he was probably only around 80 or 90 percent fit. The rain came down at Newcastle in the days prior, and on the day itself, which all worked into the favour of Samcro, who also had the advantage of a recent run on his side. That pushed Samcro into favouritism as punters latched onto the Irish runner in the hope he could rediscover the magic he showed at Cheltenahm last season. However, it wasn’t to be for him, and Buveur D’Air took the spoils up north.

What Next for Samcro?

The big question mark right now is what will happen to Samcro in the future. He doesn’t look to be a natural hurdler, and he certainly looks as though he needs further than the minimum trip of two miles. If they are going to keep him hurdling, the only realistic long term target for him looks to be the Stayers Hurdle over three miles, a trip he should get and a division that looks wide open right now.

The second option is to send him over fences, something that was expected to happen this season anyway. The only worry about going over fences is that if he looked a natural over them, surely he would have gone over fences straight away this season. The delay in that leads me to think he could have jumped poorly over them at home.

The way Samcro looks, he looks as though he should jump a fence with ease, and if it was announced he was heading over fences, I’m sure he’d jump straight into favourtism for the JLT at Cheltenham, even without a run over the larger obstacles in public.The trip of two and a half miles looks as though it would suit him well too, I think if there was a two and a half mile hurdle race at the festival he would never have attempted two miles this season at all, they have gone to the minimum distance with him because there are no other alternatives.

The day was all about Buveur D’Air though, and if he goes onto win a third Champion Hurdle title at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival then he is going to have to be spoken about as one of the greats of the game. He oozes class, and began this season with a bang in the Fighting Fifth.