Buveur D’Air, Samcro and Summerville Boy are set to clash in a sterling renewal of the BetVictor Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.
Gordon Elliott’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle winner Samcro had his reputation dented by the reopposing Bedrock on his seasonal return at Down Royal, but is expected to strip much fitter for this Grade One heat.
He will need to, though, as he faces the dual Champion Hurdle hero and last year’s winner of this race Buveur D’Air, who is unbeaten in his last 10 races, two of which came over fences.
Summerville Boy is another leading contender having won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March, despite flattening the final two flights.
Tom George’s charge will aim to emulate Go Native, the last horse to win the Supreme and go on to take the Fighting Fifth, while Samcro would be repeating a feat last achieved by Peddlers Cross having won the longer novice race at Cheltenham.
Bedrock bids to follow up his Grade Two success in Northern Ireland for Iain Jardine while Colin Tizzard’s Vision Des Flos finished second in Grade Ones at Aintree and Punchestown last season.
Ben Haslam’s Blue Et Rouge, second in the Betfair Hurdle for Willie Mullins last season, completes the field.