Betfair Fighting Fifth

Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle Runner-by-Runner Guide: He's back!

Constitution Hill
Constitution Hill returns at Newcastle today in the Betfair Fighting Fifth.

Saturday's feature race is the Grade 1 Betfair Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, which sees an exciting stable clash between Seven Barrows rivals! Here with a runner-by-runner guide is our man Daryl Carter...


Trainer Nicky Henderson has won the 14:10 Grade 1 Fighting Fifth at Newcastle six times in the last ten years, including a dead heat last term with Epatante, who lines up again today. The trainer has finished second with his other two entrants in this contest by margins of a neck and a nose, and his outstanding record looks sure to be extended this year.

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Five-year-old Constitution Hill needs little introduction after sluicing home in the Supreme Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last term by 22 lengths and being awarded the highest-ever rating of 170 for a Novice Hurdler. His sensational Supreme Novice Hurdle performance needs to be backed up, but there is little reason why he shouldn't justify his lofty rating. He makes his seasonal return and steps into open company for the first time.

While this wouldn't have been Nicky Henderson's ideal first preference in taking on a useful stable mate, the fact that he does bodes confidence from his master trainer. The Newcastle track should suit him well with a long home straight, and the current good-to-soft ground should be spot on.

There's little reason to oppose Constitution Hill - he's 1.330/100 to back so the money back on lolsing bets offer acts as insurance should he suffer a shock - but this horse has the potential to be one of a lifetime, and Nicky Henderson's cautious approach when it comes to the ground (pulled at Ascot recently) suggests he holds him in the highest regard. However, what he has done on the track has been nothing short of breathtaking in all three outings.

We rate Constitution Hill's opposition

Epatante won this race in 2020 after scoring earlier that year in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and won here again when forced into a dead heat in 2021. She has had a glittering career but has been no match for Honeysuckle, who has exposed versatility. Epatante's best form has come in races where she has been able to sit and pounce after the final flight, but since meeting Honeysuckle, she has not been able to do this.

She was given a poor ride in this contest last term when held onto for too long. Still, she is better than that, and this track does play to her strengths with three hurdles in the home straight, which doesn't allow the race to get away from her. Still, she meets a completely different animal today in Constitution Hill, and this would require a significantly improved performance on every level.

Ten-year-old Not So Sleepy is an admirable little horse. Still, despite being slightly fortunate to dead heat in this contest last year with Epatante, Nicky Henderson's mare readily turned that form on its head in the Champion Hurdle. He has a good record at this time of year and arrives on the back of an excellent third in the Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket, but this is a mammoth task on hurdle return.

Tommy's Oscar reverts back to hurdles after two promising Novice Chase runs, which seems extremely strange given this is not a good opportunity for him, and he probably had solid claims for some good contests down the line in that sphere. He is extremely hard to make a case for, given he earned his rating of 156 by giving weight away to inferior rivals rather than beating graded horses.

Voix De Reve has been outclassed in this race for the last two years, and this looks a much stronger renewal than any of those so is easily opposed at likely triple figure odds.


Prediction

1: Constitution Hill

2: Epatante

3: Tommy's Oscar

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