Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins has three entries for the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle, the most of any trainer.
They are led by arguably the leading novice hurdler from last season, Klassical Dream, who captured three G1 prizes on the bounce after Christmas including the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Mullins’ other entries are the Susannah Ricci-owned pair of Sharjah and Saldier, both G1-winning hurdlers in 2018.
Dual Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D’Air headlines 14 entries for the £110,000 G1 Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.
Buveur D’Air is aiming for a third successive victory in Newcastle’s two-mile highlight, a feat that would emulate the great Comedy Of Errors who landed three consecutive renewals between 1972 and 1974. Birds Nest is the only other three-time winner, scoring in 1976, 1977 and 1979.
Trained by Nicky Henderson, the most successful handler in the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle with five wins, Buveur D’Air ended last season with a smooth success in the G1 Punchestown Champion Hurdle in May.
That came on the back of a third flight fall in the G1 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, when going for a historic third victory, and a narrow defeat at the hands of Supasundae in the G1 Aintree Hurdle.
Buveur D’Air is the 1/3 favourite with Betfair.
Henderson said: “I think Buveur D’Air is in very good form and the plan is to start him off in the Betfair Fighting Fifth at Newcastle.
“He has been to Newcastle for the last two years and has been brilliant both times.
“I thought he was very good at Punchestown, as he jumped with his usual slickness, and it was marvellous to finish the season on a good note.
“It was sad what happened at Cheltenham when we were trying to win a third Champion Hurdle but these things happen.
“He is still probably the one they all have to beat on paper. There are some young horses coming through such as Klassical Dream, but it would be great if he could make it to Cheltenham again this year and win a third Champion Hurdle.”
Henderson has also engaged G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle victor Pentland Hills, though has indicated that the four-year-old is likely to head elsewhere.
Silver Streak (Evan Williams) developed into a high-class hurdler last season, with the pick of his efforts coming when third in the G1 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. The six-year-old returned this season with a comfortable victory in a Listed hurdle at Kempton Park on October 20.
Other entries to note include versatile mare Lady Buttons (Phil Kirby), who made a successful comeback at Wetherby last month, and G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle fourth Nelson River (Tony Carroll).
Betfair spokesman, Barry Orr, commented today: “Buveur D’Air is seeking a hat-trick of wins in this race and, with question marks about the participation of several of the initial 14 entries, we have installed him as the 1/3 favourite. Silver Streak, another likely runner, is next in the betting at 7/2.”
Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle – Betfair prices:
1/3 Buveur D’Air,
7/2 Silver Streak,
7/1 Pentland Hills,
8/1 Klassical Dream,
10/1 Saldier, Sharjah,
20/1 Lady Buttons,
50/1 Blu Cavalier, Cornerstone Lad, Linganno Felice, Nelson River, Zambella
100/1 Brandon Castle, Cool Mix
An excellent card at Newcastle on Saturday, November 30, also features the £70,000 Listed Rehearsal Handicap Chase over just shy of three miles.