Buveur D’Air has won the last two runnings of the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle, so cannot be opposed for the hat-trick on all known form at Newcastle on Saturday (14:05).
Trained by Nicky Henderson for legendary gambler JP McManus, the eight-year-old bids to become just the third horse in this race’s history to win it three times. Comedy Of Errors and Birds Nest both enjoyed triple successes in the 1970s.
As Buveur D’Air comes 13lb and upwards clear of his four rivals on official ratings, he can run below par and still take all the beating.
He won the Fighting Fifth at a canter on reappearance two years ago, before going on to Christmas Hurdle and Champion Hurdle glory.
The son of Crillon then dismantled the vaunted Samcro last season when leaving that Irish raider for dead after the last and bolting up by eight lengths.
It was an impressive display, but Buveur D’Air then got collared close home by stable companion Verdana Blue at Kempton.
When eased to Listed level for his customary Cheltenham Festival prep run in the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown, however, he resumed winning ways when victorious easing down for a third consecutive year.
Buveur D’Air fell at the third flight when bidding for a Champion Hurdle hat-trick, but was far from disgraced over further when second to Supasundae in the Aintree Hurdle during the Grand National meeting.
He got an eighth Grade 1 success at the Punchestown Festival when down in trip and turning the tables with Jessica Harrington’s charge, though. That shows Buveur D’Air still has tons of ability.
With no major opposition lining up against him and Barry Geraghty back in the saddle, he is 1/3 with Bethard to win first time up for the fifth consecutive season.
Silver Streak next best in Fighting Fifth Hurdle
Champion Hurdle third Silver Streak is closest to Buveur D’Air on ratings, so is the obvious forecast choice.
Trained by Evan Williams, this six-year-old has been highly consistent in graded company since landing the Swinton at Haydock in 2018.
The grey son of top sprinter Dark Angel took the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las on his return to action last October, before running a massive race in defeat in the Greatwood at Cheltenham.
Silver Streak tried to almost two stone in weight and allowances to Nietzsche. He was beaten just a neck in that Grade 3 handicap and then chased home subsequent American Grand National scorer Brain Power in the International Hurdle also around Prestbury Park.
As Silver Streak was giving 4lb to the winner, it’s another performance that can be upgraded.
Although then again second in the Champion Hurdle Trial behind Global Citizen, he defied massive odds of 80/1 to place in the big one.
He was no match for the runaway and ill-fated winner Espoir D’Allen, but kept on in the soft ground and was only beaten about 15 lengths.
The problem for Silver Streak is that he was well behind Buveur D’Air in the Aintree Hurdle on his final start of the campaign.
Despite having the benefit of a run this term under his belt when going in at Listed level around Kempton, there’s no reason why he should reverse Aintree form.
For that reason, Silver Streak looks booked for second at 4/1 with Betfair in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Lady Buttons an each-way alternative
Only five go to post but, of the remainder, the useful and versatile mare Lady Buttons gets weight all-round.
She is thus each-way value for Yorkshire trainer Philip Kirby at the Gosforth Park venue where she boasts a fine record.
A consistent sort over both hurdles and fences, the daughter of Beneficial has been very effective against her own sex and in open company too.
As a course and distance chase and handicap hurdle winner, Lady Buttons is two from three career starts here. She progressed in both jumps spheres last season when winning four of her six starts.
They include the same Listed mares’ hurdle at Wetherby that Lady Buttons took again on reappearance during Charlie Hall day.
As she also went in at that level over fences and then took the Grade 2 Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle both at Doncaster, she is a tough sort.
Regular jockey Adam Nicol does need to produce Lady Buttons late, though, as she tends to idle in front.
Her fine fourth in the Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and runner-up in the Grade 3 Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree give her claims here.
Lady Buttons is only 2lb behind Silver Streak on adjusted ratings when taking her 7lb sex allowance into account.
That makes her an each-way alternative to consider at 10/1 with Boylesports in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Lady Buttons comes out clear of Cornerstone Lad and Nelson River, who complete the line-up, off these terms and she’s race-fit.