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Prior to the start of the season all the talk was about the expected duel between the two-time defending champion Buveur D’Air, and the rising star in 2018 Ballymore winner, Samcro. They faced off in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, in which Buveur D’Air quickened clear to win virtually on the bridle by eight lengths. This led to many people adding him to their banker Horse Racing Tips ahead of the 2019 festival. The current leading contenders include:
For the six-year-old son of Germany, Samcro, it has been a very disappointing season so far making three appearances on the track, having yet to get his head in front. Considering the impression he gave last season as a future star of the sport, this has been a shock. Samcro’s future clearly lies as a staying chaser and possible future Gold Cup winner, so he is likely to now be rested for the remainder of the season before a novice chase tilt next season. A wasted season by all accounts.
Following his very impressive comeback, it looked like it would be another unbeaten season for Buveur D’Air. This meant he had now won 11 races in succession including two Champion Hurdle victories at the Festival, with his last defeat coming against his mighty stablemate Altior, in the 2016 running of the Supreme Novices Hurdle.
He was sent off at odds of 1/4 in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and was travelling with ease before making a bad mistake three out. Despite this he was shaken up going over the last only to be headed on post by stablemate Verdana Blue. The mare now heads to the Champion Hurdle, but it will certainly be a shock were she to finish in front of Buveur D’Air come March.
The Willie Mullins trained Laurina still remains the big talking horse of the race, but has yet to make her reappearance this season. She is the general second favourite for the Champion Hurdle and for good reason considering she is unbeaten in her four starts for the current Irish Champion trainer. This included a breathtaking 18 length success in the 2018 edition of the Mares Novice under Paul Townend. Mullins has landed the race with a classy mare in the past such as Annie Power back in 2016, so all eyes will be on her when she makes her comeback to the track.
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