French star Buveur D’Air returns in bid to defend Aintree Hurdle

One of the best French-bred horses to ever grace British racing is back and he’s targeting another major prize. Buveur D’Air is expected to line up at the Aintree Festival on the opening day of the Grand National meeting and there will be real excitement around his arrival.

One of the most-popular runners in the country at the minute Nicky Henderson’s pride and joy is expected to appear in a fair share of Merseyside accumulators while plenty more in the stands will be happy to simply stand back and enjoy a master at work.

The 2018 Grand National takes centre stage but before the glamour of the big one, there’s a tasty starter on Thursday, April 12 as the curtain goes up with the Aintree Bowl and Melling Chase keeping punters busy.

There’s more on the magic of Aintree Festival here or read below for reasons why Buveur D’Air is shaping as bet of the week to many.

Super bay Buveur D’Air rocks up in the form of his life having conquered each of the last 10 challenges laid in front of him. Not only does he boast that incredible winning run but many of those victories have come in the nation’s best races including a spot in the winner’s enclosure at the Cheltenham Festival last time, cementing the Champion Hurdle.

Starting as an odds-on favourite in March Barry Geraghty’s ride lived up to the pre-race hype and then some. Producing a textbook late surge, the jolly timed his challenge to perfection taking hold of the battle two from home but he couldn’t shake off runner-up Melon.

It was becoming obvious in the closing stages Buveur D’Air wasn’t going to get things all his own way with the Willie Mullins’ challenger Melon driving for the line but we witnessed a genuine determination to win from the French champ and he found extra in the closing strides to nick the race by a neck.

The closeness of that finish says a lot about Melon’s quality – and we’re sure to see the rivals do it again next year – but it would be foolish to ignore just how much the winner wanted to get his nose in front and a change of gear when it mattered most proved that.

That last-gasp challenge has become the norm for Buveur D’Air so if backing him at Aintree there will be no need for concern if he doesn’t fly out at the start. The contest is run over 2m 4f and the shortest price will, again, take his time about getting down to business. He possesses a turn of foot that’ll see him pass the bulk of the field on the run-in.

Followers of the stats in this event will tell you Nicky Henderson has won three of the last seven renewals, with Buveur D’Air ending as king 12 months ago. A repeat performance looks to be on the cards.