NICKY Henderson says it was always his intention to revert Buveur D’Air back to hurdling as the Lambourn trainer seeks a record sixth success in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival today.

The six-year-old is the most fancied of Henderson’s three entries in this afternoon’s feature race on the opening day of the Festival, although Yanworth, trained by Alan King at his nearby Barbury Castle yard, is likely to head off as favourite.

Buveur D’Air began the 2016-17 season chasing but was back over the smaller flights in his most recent outing at Sandown last month.

The prospect of another Henderson victory in the Champion Hurdle has been lifted by the fact that neither of Irishman Willie Mullins’ last two winners of the race, Faugheen and Annie Power, are fit to feature this year.

“I have always thought Buveur D’Air was a Champion Hurdle horse. He has been very good over fences but the change wasn’t because of what was happening with the Champion Hurdle,” said Henderson.

“Yes, Annie Power going made you think but I said to Barry Geraghty: ‘This horse needs to come back into the Champion Hurdle whatever happens to Faugheen’.

“Within half-an-hour, Faugheen was out but I was absolutely adamant before that he needed to come back into the Champion Hurdle.”

A quarter of the 12-strong Champion Hurdle field will be made of Henderson charges as the Seven Barrows handler also has Brain Power and My Tent Or Yours, who was runner-up last year and back in 2014, entered for the two-mile race.

“It’s a good year to have three in there with a chance because it is wide open,” said Henderson.

“Brain Power has been great, he has done everything. He has got a very high cruising speed. You have got to be able to travel through a pacy race and I am sure there is going to pace.

“His jumping was good over fences but it wasn’t quite what it wanted to be. His work was excellent and you felt this horse has got more to give over hurdles.

“The one thing you could say is there is a ground situation in that Buveur D’Air would love it soft, and Brain Power would love it good.

“Buveur D’Air’s perfectly happy on good to soft, but if it goes soft, that helps him and it goes against Brain Power and goes against Tent.

“Tent is in good shape. He has actually been a bit forgotten. It’s an open year and if he is the same horse as last year, he’ll have a very good chance.

“Would Annie Power be winning by 10 lengths this year? She probably would, but in that case, Tent is still going to win, if Buveur D’Air doesn’t come past him with Brain Power flying up the hill.”