D’Air in form as Dream awaits
Views from connections ahead of Saturday's Read Paddy Brennan At 32Red.com Novices' Chase at Haydock, featuring Buveur D'Air.
Buveur D'Air (left): Takes to fences for the first time
The Nicky Henderson-trained Buveur D'Air was one of the star performers in the novice hurdle division last season, winning three of his four starts including a Grade One triumph in the Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree's Grand National meeting.
His only defeat came in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival when he was far from disgraced in finishing third behind stable companion Altior and Irish raider Min, both of whom have already made flying starts to their chasing careers.
Buveur D'Air kicks off over the larger obstacles in the two-mile Read Paddy Brennan At 32Red.com Novices' Chase at the Merseyside track.
Aidan Coleman is on board for the first time as the horse makes his first appearance in the colours of JP McManus.
Henderson said: "He's been excellent at home (schooling) and if he'd not been really good we'd be back over hurdles.
"Everything has gone well, but he's got to get out there and have a run and it is a good race on Saturday."
The Seven Barrows handler raised the possibility of stepping Buveur D'Air up in distance later in the season in an attempt to avoid a rematch with Altior.
"We've said he could get an extra half a mile, if needed, to keep them apart," Henderson added.
Malcolm Jefferson's Cloudy Dream is two from two over fences, winning at Carlisle before impressing over this course and distance last month, but does have to concede 8lb to Buveur D'Air as a result.
"We didn't really want to go to Kempton at Christmas and apart from this race there was nowhere else to go," said Jefferson.
"The horse is in great nick and you've got to take on these horses at some stage.
"I don't know whether he really wants soft ground, he got away with it last time.
"He (Buveur D'Air) is obviously a good horse, but we think our horse is good too and he's done nothing wrong so far.
"We've got to go and we are going, so we'll see what happens."
What's Up Rory and Chic Name complete the four-runner field.