Buveur D’Air wins Champion Hurdle after thrilling battle with Melon

• Winner follows up last year’s victory for Nicky Henderson
• Former winner Faugheen well beaten after taking early lead

Buveur D’Air won his second Champion Hurdle as the first day of the Cheltenham Festival turned into a fine one for favourite-backers. But Nicky Henderson’s star had to fight much harder than last year on rain-softened ground, officially described as heavy.

Only in the last 25 yards did the 4-6 shot poke his nose decisively ahead of his Irish rival Melon, with the outsider Mick Jazz surprisingly close in third. The 2015 champion, Faugheen, was beaten by the home turn, where he engaged in a shoulder-to-shoulder tussle with the eventual winner.

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