Henderson fears Yorkhill in Champion

31 December 2017 06:05:43 GMTPlus11

Nicky Henderson feels Yorkhill could emerge as a contender in the Champion Hurdle for trainer Willie Mullins following Faugheen's Leopardstown disappointment.

Faugheen, winner of the Champion Hurdle in 2015, was a long odds-on favourite to win the Ryanair Hurdle at the Dublin venue on Friday but he never appeared to be travelling with his usual zest and was beaten when Paul Townend pulled him up before two out.

Henderson's Buveur D'air is 1.66 to retain his Champion Hurdle crown in March, where a duel with Faugheen had been predicted.

Rich Ricci's horse is now trading at 7.00 to regain the two-mile Championship crown and Henderson says he had great sympathy with both Mullins and the owner.

"We've got to hang on to these horses until March and that is when the hard work comes in," Henderson said.

"Willie has got two or three months to get them back. I feel sorry for him. I sent him a text last night and Rich as well, as it is tough and we all know what it is like.

"I know what it is like when you are going through that patch. There is nothing you can do except hold the ship on steady keel and sail it on into the wind. I feel desperate for them.

"I mean, we all wanted to see the Faugheen/Buveur D'Air clash. It has rather taken the edge off it to the point where Buveur D'Air can't be beaten, but of course he can be beaten. We've got all sorts of things to go through yet and Faugheen could easily come back."

If 'The Machine' doesn't make it to the Cotswolds, Henderson feels two-time Festival winner Yorkhill, 11.00 to land the Champion Hurdle, would be an able deputy for Mullins.

"I certainly do think Yorkhill could be the one. He is a talented horse and he ran a very good race for a very long way [at Leopardstown on Thursday]. He is hugely talented," he added.

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