Fighting Fifth Hurdle 2021 Odds: Epatante tops seven entries for Newcastle feature

Nicky Henderson's Epatante aims to retain her Grade 1 crown at Newcastle
Nicky Henderson's Epatante aims to retain her Grade 1 crown at Newcastle

Seven entries have been received for Saturday's Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, which is one of the premier Champion Hurdle trials, and the 2021 renewal has attracted some smart performers in what should be an intriguing renewal of the Grade 1 event in the North East...

Undoubtedly topping the septet is the Nicky Henderson-trained Epatante, who has been installed as a red-hot 10/11 favourite for a race she won 12 months ago. The former Champion Hurdle heroine could only finish third behind Honeysuckle in the 2021 Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but she will look to bounce back from that defeat with victory in this event.

The Henderson team have a fabulous recent record in this race - winning three of the last four renewals - and in Epatante they have a proven, top-class mare taking her chance, who is sure to be the one they all have to beat, and receiving a significant weight advantage from her male adversaries, the Seven Barrows seven-year-old is sure to be tough to beat.

However, she will face a lively rival in the shape of Monmiral, who has been in sensational form over timber in recent times, and the Paul Nicholls-trained four-year-old has been installed as the 100/30 second favourite, and is a fascinating runner. Unbeaten in five starts, the Ditcheat raider was last seen winning the Grade 1 Anniversary 4-Y-O Hurdle at Aintree's Grand National meeting, and he will now venture out of the juvenile sphere and take on the big guns in Saturday's contest.

With huge potential, Nicholls is rightly excited about the prospect of Monmiral trying his luck against proven, top-grade horses, and the youngster should put up a notable challenge to Epatante, who will hope that class and experience can come to the fore in an exciting duel.

While the pair of Epatante and Monmiral will be making their seasonal reappearance, one horse that lines up with a couple of impressive runs under his belt is the Alan King-trained Sceau Royal, who was last seen cruising to a facile win in the Elite Hurdle, and the Barbury Castle inmate is a 7/2 chance with bookmakers. Prior to that Wincanton win, Sceau Royal won a Listed event at Kempton, but he will have form to find with Epatante, who beat him comfortably in the 2020 running of the Fighting Fifth.

Behind Sceau Royal in that Kempton contest, Silver Streak will attempt to reverse that form, and the galloping grey is a 7/1 chance to strike here, and will look to recapture the form that saw him hand a shock defeat to Epatante in last season's Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park.

The remaining three entries are all available at double-figured odds, at the time of writing with Hughie Morrison's quirky Not So Sleepy (14/1) and reigning County Hurdle hero Belfast Banter (33/1) the two most likely to make the frame. Completing the septet is 100/1 outsider Voix Du Reve, who will bid to cause a huge shock for Iain Jardine in a race that should provide some notable Champion Hurdle clues.

Champion Hurdle Odds
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