Alan King’s Yanworth has suffered a slight setback and will miss the Listed Contenders Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday leaving Nicky Henderson likely to add to an excellent record in the race.
The news of Yanworth’s injury prompted a change of plan for Nicky Henderson who had Buveur D’Air entered in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase on Saturday’s Sandown card but will now revert to hurdles in the prior Listed Contenders Hurdle. The six-year-old had made a smooth transition to chasing winning both starts so far at Haydock and Warwick but being owned like Yanworth by JP McManus the decision was made by connections to head to the Contenders Hurdle following the injury news.
Buveur D’Air boasts strong hurdling form having finished third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle behind stablemate Altior at last year’s Cheltenham Festival where he came from too far back and he duly followed up under a more positive ride with a Grade 1 win at Aintree. He’s likely to face most to do on Saturday from another stablemate with Brain Power also entered. The latter has made big strides in his last two starts winning a Listed handicap hurdle at Sandown before a big win in the Grade 3 West Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle at Ascot. The six-year-old had plenty in hand in that dominant win and can clearly make his mark outside of handicap company now. Should they both take their chances on Saturday there’s unlikely to be much between the pair in the betting and although Buveur D’Air is attracting most of the headlines and attention Brain Power should not be underestimated and would definitely be of interest if getting to a backable price.
Henderson and Paul Nicholls have between them won five of the last six renewals and the latter has entered Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth winner Irving who was an early faller in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock last month. However, the nine-year-old would have a stiff task against the young guns to add to his trainer’s win with Connetable last year.
The Listed Contenders Hurdle is live on Sky Racing on Saturday night.