Fightinf Fith Hurdle preview: With the Hennessy meeting coming to a close at Newbury, all eyes will be on the future stars of the chasing division. However i’ve turned my attention to Newcastle which hosts the Stan James Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
This prestigious Grade 1 race is usually a good pointer towards the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and this year looks no different. The top quality field of 8 has been assessed and i’ve outlined my winner for you here!
This race was won last year by the John Quinn trained Countrywide Flame, winner of the 2012 Triumph Hurdle. This year Mr Quinn is represented by the mare Cockney Sparrow (14/1 Ladbrokes), who has the benefit of receiving weight from all her rivals. She reappeared this season at Wetherby where she beat a good quality field of mares in a Listed race over 2m 1f. She travelled well and ground out the victory beating the likes of L’Unique and Une Artiste. Although she faces a much tougher challenge up against the boys today, her official rating of 141 is evidence to the fact that she is a very good quality horse in her own right. Her progressive nature and fluent jumping style are both obvious positives and she is likely to run well.
The strong market favourite however is the classy MY TENT OR YOURS (8/11 Betfred). This horse was narrowly beaten by Champagne Fever in the Supreme at the Festival last season and then went on to destroy a small field in a Grade 2 at Aintree, beating his stalemate by 16 lengths. This horse currently sits third in the Champion Hurdle market around the 6/1 mark and many will be expecting him to outline his Champion Hurdle credentials further with this victory. His jockey, A P McCoy, passed up an opportunity to ride the equally impressive At Fishers Cross in favour of this horse, something which in itself screams confidence. Although Nicky Henderson has stated that he will come on for the run its difficult to see him losing this race. He handles the ground and trip, and will be suited by the testing nature of the Newcastle track. As well as already being rated 160, this horse has endless scope to improve and should have the conditions to suit on the day.
The biggest danger to the favourite looks to be Melodic Rendezvous (5/2 Betfred), who is rated 155 and was a strong contender for last season’s Champion Hurdle before suffering a set-back which ruled him out of the race. He has had one start so far this season at Wincanton where he comfortably beat the well-backed favourite that day, Far West. His trainer was a little cautious before that race stating that he might well need the run and was obviously very impressed afterwards by how well he travelled, quickened up and won. He stated recently that this race will help to decide whether this horse attempts the Champion Hurdle or instead switches to Novice Chases. Clearly the horse is talented and should improve thanks to his first run, however the Wincanton race doesn’t look the strongest in terms of form. Both the second and third in that race have failed to frank the form and there is a sense that although winning well, Melodic Rendezvous wasn't faced with too difficult a task. Although one for the forecast, it is difficult to imagine an in-form My Tent Or Yours getting beaten by this horse.
Grumeti (9/1 Betfred) is an interesting contender for Alan King. This horse came third in the 2012 Triumph Hurdle loosing out to Countrywide Flame by just over 3 lengths. He then reversed that form at Aintree where the ease in the ground suited him well and he was victorious by 1 length. This will be his first start of the season and he may well lack the fitness and experience needed to overcome some of his rivals. Nevertheless at only 5 years of age he’s certain to improve and irrespective of his result in this race he is one to follow for the rest of the season.
The remaining runners look seriously up against it. Cotton Mill (20/1 Ladbrokes) returns to action finishing 8 and a quarter lengths behind Melodic Rendezvous and looks like he’s crying out for a longer trip. Duke of Navan (14/1 Ladbrokes) is another 5 year-old who was progressive last year over hurdles but is sure to struggle in this company. Then we have the pair of Rock Relief (100/1 Betfred) and Stormy Weather (100/1 Ladbrokes) who, on the form they have shown so far, have no chance (as is evident by their prices).
In summery, despite the fact this will be My Tent Or Yours’ first run I cannot oppose him against this field. His odds-on price accurately reflects his chances and irrespective of whether or not he will come on for the run he is clearly the likeliest winner. With the Champion Hurdle his main target, connections will be looking to set down a good marker and shake up the ante-post markets. His class and ability appeals greatly and he could well be the banker of the weekend for many, including me!
Fighting Fifth Betting Tip
MY TENT OR YOURS (WIN) (8/11 Betfred)
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