Fighting Fifth Hurdle – Runner-by-Runner Guide to the Newcastle Grade 1
Analysis of the Six Runners in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle
The Ladbrokes Trophy is the centrepiece on Saturday, but it’s beautifully accompanied by the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle. Racing Tips have provided a runner-by-runner guide to the top-tier action, including our tip for the big race.
It’s always good to begin with an unbeaten horse and MONMIRAL certainly looks like some specimen.
Transferred to Paul Nicholls after winning his only hurdling start in France, no rival has got within five lengths of him since he joined Ditcheat. That record spans four starts, including the Grade 2 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster and most impressively, Aintree’s Grade 1 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle. In that race he beat Adagio by a rampant 7 ½ lengths, far more cosily than Triumph Hurdler Quilixios had at Cheltenham. Adagio has rather franked the form too.
Not So Sleepy
The main protagonist in the early carnage of last year’s race, NOT SO SLEEPY went about restoring his reputation last season. He did so fairly well, repeating his victory in Ascot’s Betfair Exchange Hurdle off 15lbs more than the previous year and then ran a massive race to be fifth in the Champion Hurdle at 125/1. He has never been able to apply his front-running at this level, but might get to this time. So long as he doesn’t mess about again.
SCEAU ROYAL’s connections are following last year’s tried and tested method of hurdles in the autumn and fences from the turn of the year. He was not a lucky horse last season, despite winning the Elite Hurdle and Game Spirit Chase, but would have gone much closer in the International Hurdle and even the Champion Chase with a little more fortune. He has started this season in tremendous fashion, but Epatante toyed with him last season and this is a lot harder once again.
You can never take SILVER STREAK’s victory in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle away from him. However, trainer Evan Williams would be one of the first to admit that that race fell into his hands. Yes he beat Epatante, but the mare had operations to correct issues that were clearly blighting her at Kempton. Moreover, Sceau Royal put him in his place in the Elite Hurdle and he looks up against it.
Voix Du Reve
VOIX DU REVE has done himself justice since joining Iain Jardine from Willie Mullins. Ultimately, he massively outran odds of 200/1 in this last year, but he is justifiably a big price again this year and is a back number up against all of this opposition.
We watched and marvelled at EPATANTE’s pace and grace over a hurdle in the 2019/20 season. She was untouchable in the Christmas Hurdle and then the Champion Hurdle before reappearing with a bloodless win in this a year ago. However, back issues, so reported by Nicky Henderson, started to affect her previously swift hurdling and she was no match for Honeysuckle in her Champion Hurdle defence, nor her foray to Ireland for Punchestown’s equivalent. This field is much the same as last year, so she should have their measure again. Bar one newcomer of course…
Big Race Verdict
Epatante should have a good chance of defending her crown, but she is taken on with the unbeaten four-year-old MONMIRAL. Juvenile hurdlers often have difficulty transitioning to open company, but this boy looks a bit of a beast and his form in beating Adagio so easily at Aintree is working out very well. Sceau Royal has a chance of minor honours again before he most likely returns to chasing.