Fighting Fifth Preview: Apple's Jade set to cause upset

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APPLE’S JADE – 7-1 Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power, Boylesports and Stan James

Only seven horses have been entered for Saturday’s Grade 1 Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle but the race which has been won in the past by some hurdling greats including Comedy Of Errors, Night Nurse and Sea Pigeon sees the reappearance of reigning Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air from the Nicky Henderson stable.

The six-year-old followed up his comfortable four and a half length victory over stablemate My Tent Or Yours at the festival with an equally impressive win over that rival at Aintree three weeks later and is clearly going to be a major force once again this season but with a valuable fitness advantage to her name and in receipt of 7lb the all-conquering stable of Gordon Elliott can cause a minor upset with his talented mare Apple’s Jade at the 7-1 freely available.

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The five-year-old also holds an entry in the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse but while owner Gigginstown and  Elliott are only represented by the daughter of Saddler Maker in Newcastle’s Grade 1 feature they both have other options in Sunday’s 2m 4f Irish contest. Unbeaten in her last three starts Apple’s Jade went down by a nose to fellow rival Irving in last year’s Fighting Fifth and is confidently expected to gain revenge on Paul Nicholls’ charge who went on to beat only one horse in his three subsequent starts.

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Like Buveur D’Air Apple’s Jade was also a winner at this year’s Cheltenham festival, beating the Willie Mullins pair of Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini in the OLBG Mares Hurdle and while she will be dropping back half a mile if allowed to take her chance her form over the minimum trip is equally impressive. Nicky Henderson is sure to have his Champion Hurdler as fit as he can get him for his seasonal reappearance but with the mount of Barry Geraghty’s major targets several months away JP McManus’s gelding could be vulnerable at the weekend. If Apple’s Jade is going to lower his colours this season it is likely to be in Newcastle’s historic hurdle race on Saturday afternoon.

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