Buveur D’Air is one of 23 entries for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on the first day of The Festival, Tuesday, March 13th.
Buveur D’Air is the 4/6 market leader for a repeat victory in 2018. He lifted the two-mile hurdling crown in 2017 with victory over stablemate My Tent Or Yours (12/1).
No horse has won back-to-back Champion Hurdles since Hardy Eustace completed the feat in 2005.
Willie Mullins, who has landed the Champion Hurdle four times since 2011, trains six of 11 Irish-trained entries, with the most prominent of those being the 2015 winner Faugheen (5/1), who is the most recent odds-on winner of the Unibet Champion Hurdle.
Nicky Henderson is the most successful trainer of all time in the Champion Hurdle with a total of six victories. In addition to Buveur D’Air and My Tent Or Yours, Henderson saddles Call Me Lord (33/1), who looked impressive at Sandown Park on his latest start, Verdana Blue (40/1) and Charli Parcs (50/1).
Queen Mother Champion Chase
Altior and Douvan headline the 30 entries for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on the second day of The Festival, Wednesday, March 14th.
Neither horse has raced so far this season but punters appear undeterred as Altior is an EVS shot here with us at 888sport, whilst Willie Mullins’ once invincible Douvan is also near the top of the betting.
The Haldon Gold Cup winner from November, Politologue, is trading around the 4/1 mark. After his Exeter success he went on to beat Fox Norton (8/1) in a thrilling renewal of the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December.
Last year’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase victor Special Tiara (16/1) is one of a record 17 entries from the Emerald Isle.
The JP McManus owned Great Field (7/1) may also make the line-up according to his connections this week.
The feature race of the Cheltenham Festival is the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup which will take place on Friday, March 16th.
The three and a quarter mile blue-riband event, which carries record prize money of £625,000 in 2018, has attracted 38 entries this year, 18 of which are trained in Ireland.
The reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup champion, eight-year-old Sizing John (7/1), and the excellent Might Bite (7/2), winner of last year’s RSA Chase at The Festival, are the most prominent names amongst the entries and head the betting.
Noel Meade's Christmas Chase winner Road To Respect (12/1), his well regarded stablemate Disko (20/1), the Eddie Harty-trained Coney Island (10/1) and Jessica Harrington’s Irish Grand National winner Our Duke (9/1) are the Irish raiders that are currently attracting the most attention from punters on both sides of the Irish Sea.
Another horse that came into the Cheltenham Gold Cup reckoning over the weekend was Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red (16/1) after winning the Cotswold Chase at National Hunt headquarters.
Ellison told the Luck On Sunday programme: "Everything is good this morning. He's eaten up and he's in good fettle.
"It was a good day. I thought he was impressive at Aintree and basically nobody picked up on it. This race was another notch up and he was impressive again. I thought he was exceptional and we were realy delighted with him.
"He's not slow, he's a very deceiving horse. He's always just behind the bridle and as he's got older he's got stronger.
"I thought he jumped well and he deserves a crack at the Gold Cup now. It's all systems go.
"I don't think they'll go any faster in the Gold Cup than they did yesterday and it looks a wide open race."
"We'll get the Gold Cup out of the way and then think about the Grand National. It's often a good prep," he said.
Bristol De Mai (33/1) may now head to the Grand National instead of the Gold Cup after he was defeated in the Cotswold Chase.
“We have asked a few questions of the horse and we have found the answers,” Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owner Isaac Soude and Simon Munir, said.
“This was a step back in the right direction.
“He doesn’t look a Gold Cup horse on that running. We might have another plan.
“He’ll get an entry on Tuesday for the Grand National. It might be the National more than the Gold Cup.”
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*