Nicky Henderson will be hoping that Buveur D’Air can build on his hugely impressive hurdles debut when turned out at Huntingdon this afternoon.
He thrashed the since unbeaten Wait For Me at Newbury back in November, marking him down as a realistic contender for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He’d performed admirably in bumpers last season when only a four-year-old; twice chasing home the impressive Barters Hill.
He’s a French bred youngster from a family Henderson knows only too well. He is by French stallion Crillon, who currently stands at the Haras de la Baie Stud in Northern France. The former middle to long-distance performer started his stud career back in 2004. He’s been responsible for numerous winners in France, though few of his progeny have travelled across the Channel.
Henderson’s first experience of the sire came with Ranjobaie back in 2009. He arrived in the UK unbeaten from three runs on the flat for French trainer Yannick Fertillet. He was a more than useful hurdler, running Menorah a close second at Warwick on his British debut. He came close to winning the EBF Novices’ Handicap Final at Sandown in March 2010. He changed hands and was sent over fences the following season, but failed to make an impact over the larger obstacles.
Crillon continues to produce quality jumpers in France. Alex De Larredya is a promising young chaser who has already tasted success at Auteuil. It is interesting to note that he is owned by Simon Munir. Jemy Baie is another young chaser by Crillon, who is performing well in graded events over fences.
But not only is Henderson familiar with the sire of Buveur D’Air, he has also had considerable success with the gelding’s dam. The French mare in question is History, and she was responsible for the yard’s classy gelding Punchestowns. He was a powerful racehorse who had a terrific strike-rate, winning seven of his 14 starts under rules. He so nearly lifted the World Hurdle in 2009 when defeated by one of the greatest staying hurdler’s of all time in Big Bucks.
My, how the Lambourn trainer will be hoping that this latest French import can become as successful as Punchestowns. The early signs are certainly encouraging.