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Fighting Fifth Hurdle - 29th November, 2014

Irving will aim to bounce back from a final flight fall in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday afternoon, as the Paul Nicholls-trained raider heads to Newcastle for a fascinating renewal of the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle, which is often a leading trial for the Champion Hurdle.

The Ditcheat inmate had just kicked to the front when crashing down and the classy novice hurdler left the door open to Purple Bay, but if he is none the worse for that fall then he will be a very tough nut to crack, especially with Sign Of A Victory not taking his chance for Nicky Henderson.

Arctic Fire was well beaten by Little King Robin in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal, but Willie Mullins, who is set to unleash Djakadam in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury as well on Saturday, will fancy his chances of bringing that charge on and he has to be respected.

John Quinn's Aurore D'estruval impressed when winning a Listed mares' hurdle and has to be considered a lively contender in this race, whilst Sea Lord can't be completely written off in an intriguing renewal of Newcastle's showpiece.

Swaledale Lad and Volcanic Jack will complete the sextet and will be up against it against some top notch rivals and will be no doubt fighting it out for the minor honours in what could produce a Champion Hurdle candidate for March.

Latest Betting for 2014 Fighting Fifth Hurdle

4/5 Irving

10/3 Arctic Fire

4/1 Aurore D'estruval

14/1 Sea Lord

66/1 Swaledale Lad

200/1 Volcanic Jack

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Fighting Fifth Hurdle History

The Fighting Fifth Hurdle is a Grade One race run at Newcastle over two miles for horses aged four years or older and is widely regarded as a trial for the Champion Hurdle.

Established in 1969, the Fighting Fifth is one of the highlights of the national hunt season for the two mile hurdlers as many venture to the North East and use the race as a stepping stone to the Cheltenham Festival and in particular the Champion Hurdle the following year.

Comedy of Errors was the first horse to become synonymous with the race and managed to win the Fighting Fifth three years running in 1972, 1973 and 1974. Fred Rimell's star managed to use the race as a springboard and went on to win the 1973 and 1975 Champion Hurdles to become one of the greatest hurdlers in living memory.

The roll of honour for this contest is simply glorious with such greats as Night Nurse, Bird's Nest and Sea Pigeon all etching their name on the illustrious honours board during the late 1970's, early 1980's.

Kribensis was an emphatic winner of the 1989 Fighting Fifth for trainer Sir Michael Stoute having already won the Triumph Hurdle as a four-year-old.  He then enhanced his reputation by going on to win the 1990 Champion Hurdle for owner Sheikh Mohammed.

More recently, Harchibald was a dual winner of the race in 2004 and 2007, whilst Nicky Henderson's Punjabi used this race as the catalyst for his career as he went on to win the 2009 Champion Hurdle after winning the 2008 Fighting Fifth.

Recent Winners of Fighting Fifth Hurdle

  • 2000 - Barton
  • 2001 - Landing Light
  • 2002 - Intersky Falcon
  • 2003 - The French Furze
  • 2004 - Harchibald
  • 2005 - Arcalis
  • 2006 - Straw Bear
  • 2007 - Harchibald
  • 2008 - Punjabi
  • 2009 - Go Native
  • 2010 - Peddlers Cross
  • 2011 - Overturn
  • 2012 - Countrywide Flame
  • 2013 - My Tent Or Yours
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