Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle (Newcastle) Preview & Betting Tips – Saturday 2nd December 2017

The all-weather fare may provide the bulk of the action up at Newcastle these days, but the course’s turf track is still in operation for the jumps season, and plays host to one or two excellent contests. Top of the pile when it comes to the class of the runner on show is this Grade 1 affair for the two mile hurdlers.

Race Analysis

There is no doubting the one that they all have to beat here. If Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’air turns up at anything like his best, he should win this in a canter. Six from seven over hurdles in his career to date, with three of those wins coming at the highest level, he looks likely to prove a cut above his rivals. Excellent when winning the Champion Hurdle in March, he was if anything even better when last sighted hosing up at the Aintree National meeting and looks tough to beat here.

The late withdrawal of Apples Jade may have removed the most credible challenger to Buveur D’air from the race, but if one horse can at least give the favourite something to think about it is surely the Paul Nicholls runner, Irving. Successful here in both 2014 and 2016, he clearly likes it around here, and having won first time out in each of the past two seasons, this may well be the time to catch him.

Next in the betting comes the Evan Williams runner John Constable. Last sighted when finishing with more in front than behind in the Cesarewitch on the flat, the plus point of that disappointing effort may be that it will have helped his fitness ahead of this test. The six year old’s most recent run over hurdles resulted in an easy win in a Listed Handicap at Market Rasen off a mark of 150. Even a repeat of that run would leave him some way short of the standard set by the market leader though.

The runner most open to improvement in the line-up would be the Nick Williams-trained four year old, Flying Tiger. Last year’s Fred Winter winner arrives in decent heart following solid efforts both on the flat and over hurdles this season, most recently when finishing third to the ill-fated London Prize in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton. Whilst he does have a mountain to climb on official ratings, he at least has youth and potential on his side.

Betting Tips

It’s extremely difficult to see past the favourite here. With the re-emergence of Faugheen, he may not have things all his own win in the two mile hurdling division this term, and certainly looks to have a fight on his hands to retain his Champion Hurdle crown. There’s no Faugheen in opposition here though and the Henderson runner looks a class apart from these rivals. All things considered, the 4/11 on offer with Betfair looks a perfectly fair price.