Dual Cheltenham Festival Champion Hurdle winner and eight-time Grade One victor Buveur D’Air has been retired. The 11-year-old, trained by Nicky Henderson and owned by JP McManus, amassed £1.23m in prize money during his career, winning 17 of his 27 races.
Multiple champion trainer Nicky said in his Unibet blog: “He was a great friend to all of us at Seven Barrows and was one of the nicest people to have around the place. He did everything you’d ask and was a joy to train. I feel very privileged to have trained him for all those years. He was a superstar and won’t be replaced.
“I’m delighted he’ll have a long and happy retirement at JP’s Martinstown Stud where he’ll have plenty of time to exchange stories and anecdotes with Istabraq and Binocular about Champion Hurdles gone by.”
Buveur D’Air’s final run in Kelso’s Morebattle Hurdle in March saw him finish down the field in ninth following an 11-month absence.
Nicky cited a freak incident, when a shard of wood from a flight of hurdles became wedged in the gelding’s coronet band while racing in November 2019, as the reason behind the decision.
“It all goes back to the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle in 2019 when he managed to get a six inch piece of wood wedged into his hoof, so to get him back racing again was an achievement in itself and testament to Buveur D’Air himself who was a model patient,” he said.
“The vets did a marvellous job. There were literally hundreds of splinters in his foot and they had to get out every single one, which was a massive challenge. They managed to do it, but we were always facing small issues because he was never entirely happy on it. He was never lame, but it would be a bit like you and I having a stone stuck in our shoe, which is rather uncomfortable.
“The plan was to run him at Tipperary’s big meeting next month and he was in full training and going well, but not quite as well as everything used to be. It was clear that his foot was still giving him problems, which is why we made the decision when we did because he’s not getting any younger and our only concern is his welfare.”
Rated 172 at his peak, Buveur D’Air won two consecutive runnings of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, plus the Top Novices’ Hurdle, Aintree Hurdle, Christmas Hurdle and Punchestown Champion Hurdle, in addition to his 2017 and 2018 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle victories.
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