There is some cracking racing to get stuck into this weekend, including the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and the eagerly anticipated Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
The Young Master to win Ladbrokes Trophy @ 12/1
The Young Master was well-touted for this contest back in 2015 but he and Sam Waley-Cohen parted company at the first fence after unseating. He’d go on to land a big handicap at Sandown on the final day of that season but has been struggling ever since, until this season.
He made a winning return at Chepstow in October, a race from which the form has worked out well (four subsequent winners behind), while The Young Master himself franked the form when scoring at Cheltenham’s November Meeting in good style despite perhaps saving a bit for himself after he jumped the last in command.
He carries just a 4lb penalty for that win and effectively has 3lb in hand on the assessor for now. His jumping has been exemplary this term and there looks to be a big chance he’ll go well again. Now rated 11lb lower than when he ran in a more competitive renewal of this three years ago, The Young Master could yet have his day and is an each-way livewire from bottom weight.
Samcro to win Fighting Fifth Hurdle @ 9/4
The Fighting Fifth has been billed as a ‘mini-Champion Hurdle’, with two-time reigning Cheltenham kingpin Buveur D’air set to take on Samcro and Summerville Boy – both novice winners in the Cotswolds back in March.
Buveur D’air won this hard held a year ago, defeating Irving. He’s won six Grade Ones over two miles, but I’ve not been truly convinced by him. He was all out to hold Melon in March and it can be argued the Champion Hurdles he has won have been less than outstanding.
Samcro and Summerville Boy won the leading novice hurdles at Cheltenham and come here to serve it up. Gordon Elliott’s charge may not be – in the words of owner Michael O’Leary – ‘the second coming’ but he is enormously talented.
It was a shock to find him beaten by the re-opposing Bedrock at Down Royal last time but surely Elliott wouldn’t point him here, bar that he’s been working to a much better level. He remains an exciting prospect and can blow open the two-mile division by lowering the colours of Buveur D’air on his own reappearance.
Commander Of Fleet to win Royal Bond Novice Hurdle @ 5/2
The Royal Bond has gone the way of Hurricane Fly, Jezki and Nichols Canyon in recent times and tends to produce a smart winner, with Gordon Elliott fancied to produce another such type here.
The Co Meath handler won this race 12 months ago and broke Willie Mullins’ domination of the contest when Mengli Khan – subsequently placed in the Supreme at Cheltenham and now favourite for the Arkle – scored.
Commander Of Fleet could be anything, as the saying goes. A point-to-point winner, he won a valuable Punchestown bumper in good style at the Festival in April, form that has worked out well. He was back there for a facile winning start over timber recently and can make light of dropping back to two miles by landing this Grade One novice.
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