Three things we learned from Saturday’s racing

Nicky Henderson (left) and Paul Nicholls served up some festival clues

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker ( Three things we learned from Saturday's action By Andrew Dietz 1:21PM 5 FEB 2017

1 Buveur team can D'Air to dream

Nicky Henderson shuffled his deck more vigorously than a Vegas croupier in the week but the cards fell right and he ended the day with an ace in the Champion Hurdle pack.

On the face it, Buveur D'Air's one-and-a-half length defeat of Rayvin Black – with Irving running well below his best – might not excite everyone but for a horse switching back from chasing he was super-slick over the hurdles.

The engine is clearly there and his back form has great substance too, and if the ground came up soft on the opening day of the festival he would be in the right place to expose any chinks in the opposition.

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2 Top Notch lives up to his name

What's not to like about Top Notch? He was dwarfed by his Scilly Isles rivals in the paddock but was standing tall in the winner's enclosure after a foot-perfect performance.

Not even those closest to this former smart hurdler expected him to cut the mustard quite as well over fences but he is getting better with every race and looks a safe option at 8-1 for the JLT Novices' Chase, particularly given Yorkhill's quirks.

Top Notch, who capped a great day at Sandown for Henderson, started the season finishing behind Charbel in a hot race at Uttoxeter. Kim Bailey's novice has entries for the Arkle and JLT and although he is yet to race beyond 2m, he could be a huge price at 33-1 in the longer race.

3 Diego charm offensive is worth noting

Paul Nicholls ended a busy day with an across-the-card double but such are his high standards, he was still berating the overall form of his team after some of his big guns failed to fire.

The build-up to Cheltenham can often be a quiet time at Ditcheat, which gives Diego Du Charmil's impressive success at Musselburgh extra oomph.

Winner of the Fred Winter last season on his British debut, the five-year-old appears likely to go straight to the County Hurdle, for which he is a best-priced 20-1, and possesses a lot of the qualities needed to be a factor in such a competitive race.

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