Henderson lands record sixth Champion Hurdle

Buveur D'Air gave owner JP McManus his 50th winner in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, jumps racing's showpiece event

Veteran English trainer Nicky Henderson won a record sixth Champion Hurdle on Tuesday with Buveur D'Air easing home in the feature race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Buveur D'Air, who vindicated Henderson's decision to bring him back from steeplechasing to hurdles, also gave owner JP McManus his 50th winner at jump racing's showpiece event.

Superbly riden by Noel Fehily -- for whom it was his second win in the race -- he came home clear of another Henderson runner the veteran My Tent or Yours, who was filling second for the third time, and Irish raider Petit Mouchoir was third.

Henderson, who trained his first Champion Hurdle winner back in 1985, was his typical phlegmatic self when praised for his call to revert back to hurdles.

"It was the right thing to do and it worked today," said the 65-year-old Old Etonian, who earlier landed a record sixth Arkle Chase.

"Can I believe it is 32 years since my first Champion Hurdle (See You Then)...no, not really, but then that is why one continues in this game, for days like these.

"It is fun."

McManus, who with close friend John Magnier built up a substantial stake in Manchester United only to fall out with then manager Alex Ferguson and sell to the Glasers, said he didn't see the half century as a significant landmark.

"I never thought about the 50," said the 66-year-old Irishman, who picked up just over £300,000 (342,000 euros, $365,000) in prizemoney for owning first and second.

"It is just a number. I'm already thinking iof 51!

"To be honest I had a fair share of disappointments prior to my first win in 1982 and it is arguable if Mr Donovan had not won that year if I would have gone on to have the others."

For Fehily the signs were encouraging coming down the hill with two hurdles to jump -- exactly the moment when McManus's race favourite Yanworth faded from the picture.

"Fantastic. To win one was great, to win two is special. I was very happy with him coming down the hill," said Fehily.

"My worry was if he would travel well enough down the hill. He travelled well and jumped well, a great performance."