Buveur D’Air and Samcro remain among seven confirmations for Saturday’s BetVictor Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
Unbeaten since finishing third in the 2016 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle to stablemate Altior, Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air has won the last two Champion Hurdles and as well as this corresponding race 12 months ago.
Gordon Elliott’s Samcro was seen as the great new hope at the beginning of the campaign, having won the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle last March, and connections decided to keep him over the smaller obstacles.
However, he was surprisingly turned over on his return to action at Down Royal by Iain Jardine’s Bedrock, who could take him on again at the weekend.
Elliott has also left in his top-class mare Apple’s Jade, but she is thought more likely to head for the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse instead.
Adding further strength in depth is Tom George’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Summerville Boy, who will be making his seasonal reappearance.
Colin Tizzard’s Vision Des Flos and Ben Haslam’s new recruit Blue Et Rouge, second to Kalashnikov in the Betfair Hurdle last season for Willie Mullins, complete the septet.