Horsebetting.com experts give their tips for the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday, 1 December. Dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’air looks a worthy favourite to land back-to-back runnings of the 2m feature contest for trainer Nicky Henderson. Irish raider Samcro disappointed when beaten on seasonal reappearance but has bags of potential, so is feared most. Summerville Boy was also a top class novice hurdler last season and is another that cannot be ruled out in a stellar renewal of this prestigious prize. Read our in-depth 2018 Fighting Fifth betting tips preview below for more details on these horses’ chances.Buveur D’air taken to floor rivals in Fighting FifthThe feature race at Newcastle on Saturday is the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle (14:05), and last year’s winner Buveur D’air is strongly fancied to get the better of young pretenders Samcro and Summerville Boy to retain his crown. This Nicky Henderson trained seven-year-old is a real class act who has won 10 of his 11 starts over the smaller obstacles, including the last two Champion Hurdle renewals at the Cheltenham Festival.
In the first of those, Buveur D’air was very impressive when staying on strongly to beat stable companion My Tent Of Yours going away by 4 1/2 lengths. He then had little difficulty confirming his superiority over the same rival when cruising to a facile five-length success in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle on the opening day of the 2017 Grand National meeting.
The JP McManus owned son of Crillon then made a winning return to action in this 12 months ago when taking up the running on the bit three from home, before winning hard held in the hands of Barry Geraghty and beating Irving by 3 1/2 lengths. He next had little difficulty following up in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day when quickening smartly to beat The New One by 1 3/4 lengths.
Champion Hurdle tougher the second time around
Connections then decided to drop Buveur D’air back in class ahead of his Champion Hurdle defence, and he duly toyed with his two rivals when landing a Listed contest at Sandown by 1 3/4 lengths. It was the ideal prep for the big one, but he really had to work much harder this time around in the Cheltenham showpiece back in March.
In what was a messy race, Buveur D’air took up the running two from home. Melon then emerged from the pack to throw down a determined challenge, but the gelding dug deep for Geraghty’s urgings on the run-in to assert close home and score by a neck.
It was a really gutsy display by Buveur D’air, who is better known for his slick hurdling and potent turn of foot. He appears to have it all and an official rating of 169 is the highest in the line-up – giving him 9lb and upwards in hand on his five rivals.
That makes him impossible to oppose and Henderson reports him to have been working well and be in fine shape. Buveur D’air therefore had to be the main selection in our 2018 Fighting Fifth Hurdle betting tips.D-Day for SamcroIrish raider Samcro was surprisingly turned over when sent off long odds-on on seasonal appearance, but remains a hugely exciting prospect and is feared most in a cracking renewal. The gelding won his sole point start before joining Gordon Elliott and looked something special when landing all three of his bumper outings.
This strapping six-year-old looked the type to come into his own over hurdles and that view was confirmed when he bolted up by 15 lengths in a 22-runner Punchestown maiden over 2m. Samcro was stepped up to 2m 4f and landed a Grade 3 at Navan in sensational style. He eased clear between the last two flights to beat Jetz by 12 lengths without jockey Jack Kennedy having to move a muscle.
Samcro won unextended and it was a performance of pure class. The son of Germany then took the step up into Grade 1 company in his stride when running out and easy 5 1/2 lengths winner of the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown in February. That victory saw him sent off the 8/11 favourite for the 2m 5f Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival a month later and his supporters never had an anxious moment.
After being produced to take up the running turning for home, Samcro only needed driving out up the run-in for a 2 3/4 lengths success over Black Op. The front two pulled a five lengths clear of the third home, and the runner-up went on to land the Grade 1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree to give the form a solid look.
Without a win in open company
Samcro then took on his elders for the first time in the Grade 1 Punchestown Champion Hurdle, but came to grief three from home when closing and holding every chance. Elliott then decided to ease him grade on return to action at Down Royal last month, and he ran a somewhat flat race in finishing a 1 1/2 lengths runner-up to the re-opposing Bedrock in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle when sent off the 4/9 jolly.
Connections said they thought he may have needed the run and the ground was too quick for him, but it was still a big surprise that Samcro was not capable on the day of giving 5lb to a rival rated 11lb his inferior. That run raises question marks about the hopes his owner Gigginstown House Stud have about landing a first-ever Champion Hurdle.
Samcro will, however, appreciate the softer ground conditions he is set to encounter in this and is entitled to strip fitter for the outing. This is his D-Day as to whether he is a serious contender for the big one next March. A big run is needed, but off level weights it’s hard to see him getting the better of Buveur D’air who is rated 9lb his superior.Summerville Boy not to be underestimatedSummerville Boy is another leading contender having won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, despite flattening the final two flights. This Tom George trained six-year-old is bidding aim to emulate Go Native, the last horse to win the Supreme and go on to land the spoils in this.
The gelding showed a terrific attitude when landing the Supreme, rallying strongly under a power packed ride from Noel Fehily to get the better of Kalashnikov by a neck. He had previously beaten the same rival in far more emphatic fashion when landing the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown by five lengths.
Given that Summerville Boy made two horrendous mistakes at the most crucial stage of the Supreme, it was a remarkable performance. Kalashnikov is also a very smart sort who had previously landed the ultra-competitive 24-runner Betfair Hurdle in the mud at Newbury by 4 1/2 lengths.
So, given how the race panned out, it’s a performance which can be upgraded and an official rating of 156 may therefore underestimate Summerville Boy’s ability. George has certainly made no secret of the high regard in which he is held and he looks the type to progress further this season now that he has strengthened up.
George is also in fine form presently and operating at a strike rate of just under 24 per cent at the time of writing. So, should one of the big two fail to live up to expectations, it would be no surprise to see Summerville Boy make the frame at the very least in a race in which bookies are paying a quarter of the odds for two places. He thus completes our 2018 Fighting Fifth Hurdle betting tips.Your Next Bet