Overturn, Fighting Fifth HurdleThe Fighting Fifth Hurdle is a Grade One Hurdle held at Newcastle that often provides a strong clue as to the outcome of the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle later in the season. Last year’s renewal was won by Overturn (pictured), but who will land the spoils in 2012? We preview this year’s Fighting Fifth and nail our colours to the mast. Our selection is currently a best price of 5/2 (3.50) with Bet365 – read on to discover what it is…

Key Trends

By taking a look at recent winners of Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle, we can attempt to pick out trends and patterns that may emerge and try to build a profile of what a Fighting Fifth winner looks like. Here are the key trends for the race:

Past Form

  • All of the last 12 horses to win the Fighting Fifth Hurdle were 1st or 2nd on their last run
  • 11 of the last 12 Fighting Fifth winners had already won a Grade 1 or Grade 2 race in their career
  • 7 of the last 12 winners had finished in the front five of a Graded Hurdle at the previous Cheltenham Festival

As we can see from these trends, our selection for the Fighting Fifth Hurdle should ideally have finished in the front two on their previous run (which rules out current Champion Hurdler and co-favourite for the race, Rock On Ruby) as well as having already shown their class by winning at least a Grade 2 race prior to their Newcastle run.

A majority of Fighting Fifth winners had also shown their ability at the highest level, by finishing in the front five of a top Hurdle race during the previous Cheltenham Festival (and it’s worth noting that four of the five exceptions to that particular trend had actually missed the Festival for whatever reason, meaning that only one horse truly bucks the trend).

Age & Experience

  • 10 of the last 12 Fighting Fifth Hurdle winners were aged 5 to 7
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had run 4 to 11 times over hurdles in their career

These trends show a preference for the younger horses (though not so young as to be inexperienced, i.e. the four year olds) as well as horses that possess the right amount of experience, but that are not too heavily campaigned.

Betting

  • 7 of the last 12 Fighting Fifth winners were sent off as favourite

The Fighting Fifth Hurdle is a good race in which to follow the favourite, as a majority of favourites have won in the past 12 years and following each would have returned a small level stakes profit.

Summary

Applying the above trends to the 2012 Fighting Fifth Hurdle field allows us to reduce it quite drastically, and of the ones that are likely to run, Cinders And Ashes makes more appeal to me than Darlan.

One reason for this is trainer Donald McCain, as he has saddled both of the last two winners of the Fighting Fifth (Peddlers Cross and Overturn) but the main reason is of course, the 2012 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle form, where the selection had the beating of Darlan by 1 1/4 lengths. Trifolium was another Fighting Fifth contender that was behind the selection on that day, finishing in third place by a neck.

It is also a bonus to see that the favourite generally performs well in this race, as most bookmakers currently have Cinders And Ashes down as slight favourite (some, such as Bet365 make the five year old bay co-favourite along with Rock On Ruby).

Advice

2012 Fighting Fifth Hurdle

Saturday December 1st, 14:20
Cinders And Ashes @ 5/2 (3.50) with Bet365

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