Fighting Fifth Hurdle Betting and Odds Focus: Nicholls’ Monmiral can join awesome four-some club

Planet Sport have the latest Newcastle betting news as the North East track gears up for the Fighting Fifth Hurdle on Saturday, November 27. Monmiral is looking to join a select four-year-old group.

Be sure to check in each day as Planet Sport counts down to the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle. We'll be on hand with all the latest betting and odds news as Newcastle readies itself for the two mile test of classy hurdlers.

Runners for the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday, November 27

Just click on the horse names to place a wager with Planet Sport Bet.

1. Monmiral : Paul Nicholls

2. Not So Sleepy : Hughie Morrison

3. Sceau Royal : Alan King

4. Silver Streak : Evan Williams

5. Voix Du Reve : Iain Jardine

6. Epatante : Nicky Henderson

Monmiral looking to join select band of four-year-old winners

Jumps racing giant Paul Nicholls is confident four-year-old Monmiral is no callow youth in going for the Fighting Fifth hurdle at Newcastle.

The unbeaten gelding part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson is bidding to become only the fifth horse of his age to win the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.

Night Nurse is the most famous of the quartet to take this treasured prize at four since its inception in 1969 - the latest being Countrywide Flame in 2012.

Now it is Monmiral's chance to add his name to an elite list. He heads to the North East with a perfect record of four out of four since moving to the UK from Francois Nicolle's stables in France.

However, Nicholls knows it is difficult as horses of his age have to meet their elders on equal terms, while he has to give 7lb to last year's winner Epatante as mares receive a sex allowance.

"It is a tough task for four-year-olds in their second season. They don't get a weight allowance against older horses but he's a talented horse and he's unbeaten," he said.

"Mares get a 7lb allowance and for four-year-olds, it's a hard year for them traditionally. Only four four-year-olds have won the race. He doesn't know that. We've done everything to prepare him right.

"We'll learn an awful lot more on Saturday especially and the more rain that falls, the better for him."

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Rain on the way for Newcastle centrepiece

Newcastle officials are exepecting rain and storms in the buildup to the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth hurdle in the North East on Saturday.

As much as 20 millimetres of rain could fall overnight on Friday and into Saturday, coupled with strengthening winds.

Clerk of the course James Armstrong described the ground as good, good to soft in places on Thursday but expects conditions to have eased come the first race at 11.45am on Saturday.

"It's been pretty well publicised the weather has been fairly iffy on and off all week. The forecast has been changing every day but the latest forecast is we are due more rain starting tomorrow, pretty heavy through Friday night into Saturday," said Armstrong.

"We're good, good to soft in places and obviously any rain that comes via nature's assistance in the next two days will see things ease, possibly a fair bit more. It could turn to good to soft, maybe easier, depending on how it falls and when."

Excellent Epatante out in front of market for Nicky Henderson

Leading national hunt trainer Nicky Henderson has reported reigning Fighting Fifth champion Epatante in fine fettle for a defence of her title.

Winner of the 2020 Champion Hurdle, the Nicky Henderson-trained mare made her reappearance in the Gosforth Park feature 12 months ago, recording a stylish success over Sceau Royal.

"We're all set to go. We've been very happy. Her work's been good, she had a nice away day at Newbury last week. She enjoyed it and worked very well," Henderson told Sky Sports Racing.

"I think she's in good form but I've got to say she was impressive beating Sceau Royal last year and he was impressive at Wincanton the other day, so I don't think it's going to be as straight forward this time.

"The one thing she was doing there last year was her jumping. She has always been very slick, very quick and accurate. After that, and from Kempton onwards, that was missing and consequently she has had some back surgery during the summer and we just tried to tinker with a few things as you would do if you felt things had gone wrong."

Henderson went on: "You can't think she was at her best at Kempton in the Christmas Hurdle which is normally her sort of race, ground and track. And then at Cheltenham (in the Champion Hurdle), she ran her race to a degree but Honeysuckle was far too good for her.

"Honeysuckle is very good but you can't help but feel we were sub par, so we'll try to get back to that and the first part of it is to go to the Fighting Fifth.

"Hopefully, that will take us to the Christmas Hurdle and then you have to start worrying about Honeysuckle again."

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The Alan King-trained Sceau Royal was last seen winning the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton and could reoppose.

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Evan Williams' Silver Streak was unceremoniously carried out by Not So Sleepy last year, but enjoyed a significant change in fortunes when subsequently beating Epatante in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Silver Streak and the Hughie Morrison-trained Not So Sleepy are in the field once again.

 Voix Du Reve (Iain Jardine) completes the list.

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