Barry Geraghty Sporting Insights 29/11/2019

Barry Geraghty: Ground no worry for slickest-ever Buveur D’Air...

Champion Hurdler over Newbury favourite

Up at Newcastle it looks like conditions are going to be very testing. I could have gone to Newbury for the ride on Ok Corral in the feature, but you can’t be in two places at once and Buveur D’Air is a dual champion hurdler, so you’d have to stick with him.

There’s a good climb before the turn in at Newcastle and the softer ground will make things a real stamina test.

I’m expecting it to be pretty hard work, especially if there’s some frost in it from overnight.

I kick things off with Checkitout for Charlie Longsdon in the Class 2 Novices’ Hurdle (12:55pm).

He looks like he’d have good chance on ratings and Dave Roberts was keen for me to ride him so fingers crossed.

As for Buveur D’Air in the Fighting Fifth (2:05pm), he’s without doubt the slickest hurdler I’ve ever ridden.

For a horse to get in so close to a hurdle and be so quick across it is phenomenal. There’s no upward trajectory, he’s just so measured and lighting quick across his hurdles.

I won the Champion Hurdle on Punjabi and Jezki, schooled Binocular, saw Hurricane Fly win Champion Hurdles, but still, none of them were as slick as Buveur D’Air is.

Silver Streak is a good horse in his own right. I finished second on him behind Brain Power in the International Hurdle last season and he went on to finish third in the Champion Hurdle.

He won on his reappearance at Kempton last month and Evan Williams’ horses are in good form too so he looks the main danger.

Then there’s Lady Buttons, who Phil Kirby has done really well with. She got off to a wining start at Wetherby earlier this month and will have her confidence up, but you’d like to think Buveur D’Air’s ability will be too much for them.

As mentioned, the ground could be very testing but that won’t be a problem for him at all – he’s very versatile.

Ireland on Sunday

I’m then back home in Ireland at Fairyhouse on Sunday, which works out well as it’s only round the corner from me.

There’s some cracking racing, with three Grade 1s and competitive contests throughout the card.

I think Envoi Allen is a really exciting horse and you’d have to think he’ll take all the beating in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle.

I’ve had a good look at him twice, as I was second to him at the Cheltenham Festival and I chased him home at Down Royal last time.

He’s been impressive so far but I’d say he’s also a horse that only seems to do as much as he needs to.

From what I gather, there’s a lot of belief in the Gordon Elliott camp about this horse and I’ll be a very interested spectator.

The Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase looks a strong race with the likes of Samcro and Fakir D'oudairies, but I actually think Burrows Saint has a big chance and seems to have been overlooked.

He was a very good winner of the Irish Grand National, which is always a fiercely competitive race and that experience in high-class handicaps will prove valuable. I think he’s in there with a bigger squeak than his price maybe suggests.

The Grade 1 Hattons Grace is a cracker too. It’s hard to fancy Apple’s Jade based on her last run, though her previous form is very strong, and I’d actually rather be with Honeysuckle.

Given that she’s getting weight from all-bar Apple’s Jade and looks highly progressive, I think she’s hard to see past.

My ride on the card is for Willie Mullins on Ciel De Neige in the 2m handicap hurdle (3:10pm).

He was third in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham which is obviously pretty strong form.

He hasn’t run since but Willie’s yard is in good form and he’s a horse that has a big opportunity to build on what he did last spring.

If he can step up from that run in the Fred Winter then he should be right there, but this is a very competitive race and I’d imagine there will be a few yards who fancy their chances.

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