NICKY Henderson says it is too soon to judge where Buveur D’Air rates among his illustrious list of Champion Hurdle winners as he sets out to retain his crown on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival today.

Lambourn-based Henderson is the most successful ever trainer in the first of the Festival’s four championship races with six victories, Buveur D’Air’s triumph last year adding to the three successive victories for See You Then between 1985 and 1987 and the wins for Punjabi in 2009 and Binocular 12 months later.

The seven-year-old will head off as an odds-on favourite under jockey Barry Geraghty to make it back-to-back successes at Prestbury Park this afternoon, a fact that Henderson believes is justified by the jumping prowess of Buveur D’Air.

“Buveur D’Air is better than some of my Champion Hurdlers. Binocular was a very good horse, while Punjabi was probably not the greatest Champion Hurdler. See You Then won the Champion Hurdle three times,” said Henderson.

“Buveur D’Air’s greatest asset is his jumping, he is so quick it is frightening. He measures them so precisely – it is like hurdlers in athletics – absolute precision.

“He is just very good at jumping. I think he is improving, he is getting stronger. When he was third in the Supreme Hurdle to Altior at the Festival two years ago, we knew he was a good horse on the way up.”

Buveur D’Air is one of four challengers from Henderson’s Seven Barrows yard entered in the Champion Hurdle, with My Tent Or Yours seeking a maiden win after three second-place finishes in the last four runnings of the race.

The 11-year-old was a winner on his last visit to Cheltenham in the two-mile International Hurdle before Christmas, while Verdana Blue and Charli Parcs make up the Henderson quartet.

“My Tent Or Yours is on old legs, bless him. He is spectacular,” said Henderson.

“He has been second in three Champion Hurdles and had his day in the sunshine in the International. He is not going without reward and we have literally kept him for this.”

Barbury Castle trainer Alan King also has a chance of Champion Hurdle success, with the owners of Elgin having paid 20,000 to supplement the six-year-old’s late entry.

King said: “Elgin has climbed 21lb in the ratings this season and deserves to take his chance.“If you take out the favourite it looks a wide-open Champion this year, and Elgin has continued progressing right through the winter and is now much more the finished article.”

“Looking back, he learned an awful lot in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He had never been so quick but I think it made a man of him.”

In total, Henderson has seven additional runners on the opening day of the Festival, the most fancied of which appears to be Gold Present, who is third favourite for the Grade Three Handicap Chase.

King’s only other entry on day one is Midnight Tour in the Mares Hurdle.