It’s the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday and five of last year’s runners are back to battle it out once more. Throw into the mix the young pretender Monmiral and it’s shaping up to be a top-class and eagerly anticipated renewal. And we’ve taken a closer look at all six runners for Saturday’s big race.
Fighting Fifth Hurdle Preview
Monmiral has won all four of his races since arriving in the UK but he now takes on older horses for the first time. He was impressive when winning the Doom Bar at Aintree with Adagio in 2nd place who has since come out and ran a cracker in the Greatwood Hurdle.
Trainer Paul Nicholls knows what it takes to win the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and with rain forecast, Monmiral will have ideal conditions.
Not So Sleepy
Not So Sleepy caused chaos in this race last year and managed just the one victory last season, being well held in the Champion Hurdle and Aintree Hurdle. He had a spin on the flat last month so will arrive at Newcastle with fitness on his side, and if he’s given an easy lead off the front, he could run a big race.
Sceau Royal is equally adept over hurdles and fences but he’s been in superb form over the smaller obstacles this term.
He successfully kicked off his campaign in a Listed contest at Kempton and followed that up with victory in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton earlier this month. With race fitness and conditions to suit on Saturday, he looks an excellent price to land his first-ever Grade 1 success over hurdles.
Last year, Silver Streak was carried out of this race by Not So Sleepy but compensation came in the form of a flawless victory in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton when defeating Epatante.He struggled in the second half of the season though, running down the field in the Champion Hurdle and the Aintree Hurdle.
Last month, his seasonal reappearance saw him place 2nd behind Sceau Royal despite some erratic hurdling, but if he can bounce back to the form of his Kempton success, he could be a big player in this Fighting Fifth Hurdle field.
Voix Du Reve
Voix Du Reve is the outsider of the field and was 4th in this race last season before a couple of decent efforts over fences. However, he’s not won in over two and a half years and looks up against it in this top-class field.
Epatante cruised to victory in an incident-packed renewal last year and she’s back to defend her crown in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Success here last season was the only highlight of a disappointing campaign that saw her overturned at short odds in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton before running 3rd in behind Honeysuckle at Cheltenham and Punchestown.
She’s had surgery over the summer which connections hope will see her back to her best but at short odds on Saturday, she’s probably one to swerve against some race fit rivals.
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