BUVEUR D’Air took the Listed 888Sport Contenders Hurdle for the third year running with an authoritative display at Sandown.
The dual Champion Hurdle hero, trained by Nicky Henderson, pulled clear from the last under Barry Geraghty to dispose of any potential threat posed by Vision Des Flos.
Rayvin Black made the early running until he put the brakes on as they turned away from the stands and that left Buveur D’Air in front.
Oliver Sherwood’s stalwart consented to go on after the third-last flight, but Buveur D’Air (1/5 favourite) was soon in the lead again without any effort.
Vision Des Flos tried to make a race of it, but he was flattered by the two-length margin of the easy winner.
Buveur D’Air was left unchanged at 13/8 favourite for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
In his final race before Cheltenham, Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D'Air lands the 888Sport Contenders Hurdle for the third year running at @Sandownpark. Impressed?— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 2, 2019
Results ? https://t.co/7iJOPsdIyZ pic.twitter.com/Fl0ZS4sYFr
Henderson was delighted to get the prep run into Buveur D’Air, as well being pleased to see him make up for his defeat to stablemate Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
“We all know what happened last time, but the jockey was very happy,” said the Seven Barrows trainer.
“It was a muddling old race. He led down the back and then Barry took a pull and let another horse take a lead. I thought he jumped a bit slicker than at Kempton where he made one howler, but I’m not saying that as an excuse.
“I’m very happy as he did need this race and the timing was perfect. I was very nervous when I thought it might be off and I had Kelso as an alternative.
“I was desperate to get a race into him and luckily Andrew Cooper and his team have done a great job. Barry was very pleased with him and said he felt much better.
“We’ve had a foot of snow in Lambourn. Mick Fitzgerald (former stable jockey) phoned me yesterday and said he was at Sandown. He told me the situation and I couldn’t believe it.”
On Apple’s Jade, who had earlier won the Irish Champion Hurdle in impressive fashion, Henderson added: “Apple’s Jade has got to knock us off our perch. She’s a very good mare and is probably a two-miler doing that today.”