Aurore To Prove Fighting Fifth Star
Newcastle stage their prestigious StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle on Saturday and the north-east course seems to have got the short end of the stick with the introduction of last weekend’s Betfair Price Rush Hurdle at Haydock on the same day as Ascot’s Coral Hurdle, resulting in a shortage of potential Champion Hurdle aspirants just a week later, but while the £100k contest is unlikely to house a successor to Jezki’s crown next March the race could yet attract a decent field headed by last year’s disappointing Supreme Novices’ Hurdle joint favourite Irving, a best price 2-1 with Betfair Sportsbook.
The Paul Nicholls-trained son of Singspiel was unbeaten in four races since joining the Ditcheat team from France going into the Festival but proved no match for impressive winner Vautour, coming home a well beaten ninth and the six-year-old blotted his copybook once again when falling on his seasonal reappearance in Wincanton’s Elite Hurdle earlier this month. In with every chance approaching the final flight the mount of Sam Twiston-Davies came down heavily and looked in serious trouble until finally getting to his feet.
That unfortunate experience may easily have affected the horse’s confidence and with second favourite Sign Of A Victory yet to prove himself in this grade despite hacking up in an Ascot Handicap last time the one to be on could be the John Quinn-trained Aurore D’Estruval at a standout 6-1 with Boylesports. The lightly-raced four-year-old filly receives 7lb from her rivals and could not have been more impressive on her first run of the season, and fourth since coming from France, when storming home in a Listed Wetherby contest at the beginning of the month.
Although only fifth in a Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting Aurore D’Estruval looks sure to leave that form behind this season and with the Willie Mullins-trained Arctic Fire a far from certain starter the filly can give her handler his second victory in the race following Countrywide Flame in 2012.