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Buveur D’Air will face nine rivals when he bids for a third successive victory in the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Nicky Henderson’s charge is bidding to become the sixth horse to claim the two-mile hurdling crown three times and the first since another JP McManus-owned star in the great Istabraq (1998, 1999 and 2000).
Buveur D’Air is one of two runners for McManus, along with Gavin Cromwell’s stable star Espoir D’Allen.
Henderson also has International Hurdle winner Brain Power and high-class mare Verdana Blue – who inflicted a shock defeat on Buveur D’Air in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton – in contention as he aims to add to his record seven Champion Hurdle triumphs.
The two biggest threats to Buveur D’Air appear to Gordon Elliott’s Apple’s Jade and the Willie Mullins-trained Laurina.
Like Verdana Blue, that pair receive the 7lb mares’ allowance from the geldings.
Mullins has also declared last season’s runner-up Melon and the improving Sharjah.
The field is completed by Ben Pauling’s Global Citizen and the Evan Williams-trained Silver Streak.