The Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle (14.10, Saturday 2 December) has been part of National Hunt Racing since 1969, and its role of honour includes Champion Hurdlers like Night Nurse, Kribensis and Punjabi.
Contestants have to jump 9 hurdles during the two-mile trip, and the winner has a shot at winning hurdling’s Triple Crown, if he can go and win the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day, and the Champion Hurdle in March.
Winners have been aged 4 to 8, with 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds winning 6 of the 10 renewals
5 of the last 10 winners had won last time out
Winners had raced 7 to 280 days previously
Paul Nicholls has trained 2 of the last 3 winners
Nicky Henderson has trained 2 of the last 9 winners
Punjabi and My Tent Or Yours were the shortest-priced winners at 8/11
Go Native was the longest-priced winner at 25/1
No horse is bombproof, but Nicky Henderson’s 6-year-old is going to prove mighty hard to beat here. He’s already proved himself to be a hurdler right out of the top-drawer by winning last season’s Champion Hurdle, he’s perfectly at home on soft/heavy ground, and he has the stamina for 2½ miles just in case this turns into a right slog. He also has 15lb and upwards in hand of all his rivals, and it would be great for racing to see this potential superstar win this easily on his way to a shot at the triple crown.
A big-priced winner of last season’s Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival off a mark of 134, he is now rated 140, and could easily have another big prize in him off that sort of mark. However, he has 29lb to find with Buveur d’Air, and connections will probably be very happy if he gets round and picks up a share of a generous prize-fund.
Owes connections nothing after already winning two renewals of this race in 2014 and 2016, and his defeat of Apple’s Jade last year suggests he’s the one horse in the field who could give Buveur d’Air a race with the heavy ground very much in his favour.
Has been struggling to land a significant blow in class 2 and class 3 handicaps lately and, as he the lowest-rated runner in the field on a mark of 132, he’ll probably need carnage to win – but let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
Won 4 of his 11 races over jumps, and is capable of decent performances. However, he’s usually much more at home on better ground, and he may get stuck in the mud here.
Buveur d’Air can hopefully win this on the bridle, setting up the prospect of a mouth-watering clash in the Champion Hurdle with Faugheen, however his odds are very prohibitive at around 1/4. Therefore, the value-bet may be for him to beat Irving in a forecast, with Irving already proven under the conditions, and well-clear of the other 3 horses on the ratings.
Forecast: Buverur d’Air to beat Irving @ 1.75/1 with Bet365