It’s easy to have been taken by the recent performances of Sceau Royal with Alan King’s charge notching up an impressive brace of wins in the lead-up to this year’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
The four-year-old’s nine-length success at Cheltenham’s Open Meeting was eye-catching enough but what followed in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton has really got connections fired up.
A seasoned horse such as Rayvin Black was easily put to the sword with Sceau Royal picking up in good style to take the spoils.
However, does this return to form signal that King’s contender is ready to challenge for a Grade 1 prize?
Let’s not forget that this Saturday’s 7/4 jolly bombed in last season’s Triumph Hurdle, finishing 12th out of 15.
And a listless performance followed at Aintree with the re-opposing Apple’s Jade the heroine of the hour back in April.
Of course, her own form can be called into question following a disappointing reappearance at Down Royal.
But at the current prices, and given her Triumph second and subsequent Aintree win, Gordon Elliott’s runner rates as a very handy 11/4 shot.
Meanwhile, the other half of the twin-pronged Gigginstown assault can effectively be ruled out if you’re a stickler for trends.
Each of the previous 10 winners were rated 149+ over hurdles, meaning Petit Mouchoir has a line struck through him.
Although, five and six-year-olds have accounted for nine of the last 12 Fighting Fifth winners with Countrywide Flame the only four-year-old to win the contest in the previous 25 years.
Our definitive nugget is the fact that six of the last 10 winners of this weekend’s renewal finished first or second in a graded hurdle contest at the Cheltenham Festival.
Therefore, APPLE’S JADE is the one for us in the north-east.
Elsewhere, 2014 winner Irving, consistent veteran Hidden Cyclone and Keith Dalgleish’s lively outsider Mirsaale make up the rest of the field.
Ladbrokes Latest Betting:
Fighting Fifth Hurdle
Sceau Royal – 7/4
Apple’s Jade – 11/4
Petit Mouchoir – 11/4
Irving – 9/2
Hidden Cyclone – 20/1
Mirsaale – 33/1
Click here for the latest Fighting Fifth Hurdle odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing