Buveur D'Air is back to his brilliant best, insists delighted Henderson
Buveur D'Air got back on the winning trail with a comprehensive success in the Betdaq Punchestown Champion Hurdle.
Nicky Henderson's dual winner of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham had questions to answer on his Irish debut having fallen when bidding to become the sixth horse to win a third two-mile hurdling crown at Prestbury Park before finding Supasundae too strong in the Aintree Hurdle.
With Davy Russell taking over in the saddle after Mark Walsh suffered an injury earlier in the afternoon, 2-1 joint-favourite Buveur D'Air travelled strongly throughout the two-mile contest and loomed ominously into the slipstream of Petit Mouchoir rounding the home turn.
The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old soon asserted and was good value for the winning margin of two and a half lengths.
Last year's winner Supasundae was second, with Wicklow Brave making late gains in third.
The other joint-favourite - Apple's Jade - again failed to run up to her best following defeats at Cheltenham and Aintree.
Henderson said: "It's great to see him finish the year back to his absolute best.
"He started the year in the Fighting Fifth and everyone thought he was going to be unbeatable, and so did I.
"Then we went and beat him with Verdana Blue of our own which was a bit of a shock, and then he went and fell in the Champion Hurdle, which knocked him sideways a bit."
Reserve Tank held the late challenge of Sams Profile in a thrilling climax to the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle.
Martin Brassil's City Island was the red-hot favourite at 11-10 as he aimed to follow up his impressive display in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The Colin Tizzard-trained Reserve Tank had won his three most recent starts over hurdles, completing his hat-trick at Aintree's Grand National meeting.
With Robbie Power in the saddle, the 13-2 chance headed the chasing pack as Royal Rendezvous led, before cruising to the front before the home turn.
The five-year-old looked set to win decisively, but Sams Profile powered for home after the final flight and there was just half a length between the pair crossing the line.