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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 22 March, 2018

Buveur D’Air retains his Champion Hurdle crown, but only just

Nicky Henderson’s charge was pushed all the way by Melon.

Buveur D'air claims today's feature race.
Buveur D'air claims today's feature race.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

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.

The JP McManus-owned horse looked unbeatable in his last three outings but had to dig deep up the Prestbury Park hill in today’s feature race as the late gamble, Melon, showed why his price was pushed in from 16/1 last night to 7/1 this afternoon.

In repeating last year’s success, Buveur D’Air became the first back-to-back winner of this race since Hardy Eustace 13 years ago.

Faugheen, wearing cheekpieces for the first time, was prominent early on but it became clear in the closing stages that the horse formerly known as The Machine wouldn’t have any role to play at the death.

Instead it was left to Buveur D’Air and Melon to go neck and neck after the final hurdle with Barry Geraghty’s mount just coming out on top.

Mick Jazz (25/1) ran a fine race in third.

Full results:

1. Buveur D’Air (4/6F)
2. Melon (7/1)
3. Mick Jazz (25/1)

LIVE: Day 1 of Cheltenham 2018

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