There’s plenty of truth in the claim that the jumps season is far too Cheltenham-centric, but that’s not going to change while the Festival continues to deliver as it did in 2018. A high proportion of the campaign’s outstanding performances were achieved during four of days exceptional sport, and the meeting’s championship steeplechases both delivered in spades.
Buveur D’Air added his name to a distinguished list of multiple winners of the Champion Hurdle with a neck defeat of Melon, yet it was an underwhelming performance from the 4-6 chance, who has yet to capture the public’s imagination despite going unbeaten through seven races since Nicky Henderson’s bold decision to put on hold an impressive start over fences.
If one judges the long-term health of a sport by the strength of those making their way up through the ranks then steeplechasing is in a pretty good place right now.
While top honours were shared in the chase department, novice hurdling was blessed by one of the most exciting prospects we have seen in years.