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A new spanner was thrown into the works for the Stan James Champion Hurdle on Wednesday morning with the news that the Nicky Henderson-trained, JP McManus-owned Buveur D’air after winning both his starts over fences this season will revert back to the smaller obstacles and a tilt at the hurdling crown at the Cheltenham Festival.

Third behind stablemate Altior and Min in last season’s Skybet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle before just getting the better of recent Irish Champion Hurdle winner Petit Mouchoir at Aintree’s Grand National meeting, a performance which may have tempted connections to put a career over fences on hold, of which Henderson said: “ It’s something that’s been at the back of my mind for a while. We got Barry ( Geraghty ) down to school him this morning and at 8am we weren’t sure whether we were going to school him over hurdles or fences!

“ He’s done well over fences and we might go down that route again in the future, but he was also a very good novice hurdler last season and he’s such a slick jumper. We schooled him over hurdles this morning and he was like an arrow, so that’s the route we’re going to go down.”

An 100-30 chance with Betfair Sportsbook for the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday behind 8-15 stablemate Brain Power, Buveur D’Air enters the Champion Hurdle betting at a top price 8-1 with sponsor Stan James. The decision to run both Yanworth and Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle for owner JP McManus may result in his Jezki now taking the Stayers’ Hurdle route rather than the shorter race he won back in 2014.

The other major race taking place on Saturday’s card at Sandown is the Grade 1 Betfred Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase for which Paul Nicholls has four of the twelve entries, the most likely runner for the Ditcheat trainer being Clan Des Obeaux, the 7-4 ante-post market leader with Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook.

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