First established in 1969, Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle is the first Grade 1 hurdle of the National Hunt season, taking place in late November/early December.

Run over a distance of 2 miles and half a furlong, there are nine hurdles for participants to negotiate, making for an exciting and challenging race. Understandably many horse racing commentators love being assigned this Gosforth Park fixture.

This race is open to horses aged four and older of both genders. The weight requirement amounts to 11st 7lbs for males and 11 stones for females.

The race gets its name from the nickname of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, otherwise known as the 5th Regiment of the Foot.

Some of the most notable horses in the Fighting Fifth have been Comedy of Errors and Birds Nest who both achieved three wins each in the 1970’s.

In more recent times, Champion Hurdler Buveur D'Air won the 2017 and 2018 renewals. Other significant mentions are for jockey Barry Geraghty who won the race three times, and trainer Nicky Henderson who boasts six wins since 2001.

In 2006 the Fighting Fifth Hurdle became the first leg of the “Triple Crown of Hurdling”. The series was completed by the Christmas Hurdle, held at Kempton Park Racecourse, and Cheltenham's Champion Hurdle.

The Triple Crown Of Hurdling is still a thing, but it in terms of sponsorship and added bonuses, the concept is currently defunct.

It is however the route many trainers plot to the Cheltenham hurdling showpiece in March. The winner of this will see their Cheltenham odds seriously decrease.

These are the top three quickest Fighting Fifth races over the last 20 years have been:

  • 2004 - Harchibald (3:50.20)

  • 2020 - Epatante (3:50.79)

  • 2013 - My Tent Or Yours (3:51.70)

Fighting Fifth Winners

  • 2020 - (3:50.79) Epatante 6-y-o 11-0 8/11F (Aidan Coleman/Nicky Henderson)

  • 2019 - (4:05.70) Cornerstone Lad 5-y-o 11-7 16/1 (Henry Brooke/Micky Hammond)

  • 2018 - (3:57.30) Buveur D'Air 7-y-o 11-7 11/8 (Barry Geraghty/Nicky Henderson)

  • 2017 - (4:10.10) Buveur D'Air 6-y-o 11-7 1/6F (Barry Geraghty/Nicky Henderson)

  • 2016 - (3:56.30) Irving 8-y-o 11-7 6/1 (Harry Cobden/Paul Nicholls)

  • 2015 - (3:57.80) Identity Thief 5-y-o 11-7 6/1 (B J Cooper/Henry De Bromhead)

  • 2014 - (4:00.10) Irving 6-y-o 11-7 6/4F (Nick Scholfield/Paul Nicholls)

  • 2013 - (3:51.70) My Tent Or Yours 6-y-o 11-7 8/11F (A P McCoy/Nicky Henderson)

  • 2012 - (4:10.50) Countrywide Flame 4-y-o 11-7 11/4 (Denis O'Regan/John Quinn)

  • 2011 - (4:03.30) Overturn 7-y-o 11-7 7/4 (Jason Maguire/Donald McCain)

Key Fighting Fifth Statistics

  • Age: 8 of the last 10 winners were aged between 5 and 7. Countrywide Flame was a 4-y-o in 2012, with Irving an 8-y-o in 2016.

  • Price: 4 of the last 10 favourites/joint favourites have won, 8/10 winners came from the top three in the betting.

  • Last Run: 8 of the last 10 winners won on their last run before the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, 6/10 winners ran within the last 49 days.

  • Previous Course Form: 4/10 winners had at least one previous run at Newcastle, 4/10 winners had at least one previous win at Newcastle. 

  • Previous Distance Form: 10/10 winners had at least three previous runs over 15-17 furlongs, 10/10 had at least two previous wins over 15-17 furlongs.

  • Previous Hurdle Form: 10/10 winners had at least five runs over hurdles, 10/10 winners had at least four wins over hurdles.

  • Rating: 10/10 winners were rated 152 or higher.

  • Grade 1 Wins: 7/10 winners had at least one previous win in a Grade 1 race, 10/10 winners had at least one previous win in a Grade 1 or 2 race.

  • Season Form: 6/10 winners had at least 1 run that season, 5/12 winners had at least 1 win that season.

  • Other Races: Champion Hurdle trends are always worth bearing in mind too.

Leading Trainers

The leading trainer in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle over the last 20 renewals is Nicky Henderson who has won the race 6 times.

Those 6 winners came from Landing Light (2001), Punjabi (2008), My Tent Or Yours (2013), Buveur DAir (2017, 2018) and Epatante (2020).

Other trainers who have recorded multiple wins in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle are Noel Meade (3 wins), Paul Nicholls (2 wins) & Donald McCain (2 wins).

Leading Jockeys

With many of the winning jockeys in recent years now retired or plying their trade in another country, there aren’t really many jockey trends to go on in this race.

Aidan Coleman and Harry Cobden could well be the next jockeys to become dual winners of the contest, while Daryl Jacob, Brian Hughes and Paddy Brennan are all on the cold list in this contest.

Fighting Fifth 'Trial' Races

As mentioned earlier, the previous season’s Christmas Hurdle and Champion Hurdle provide most of the pointers to the race, plus many of the participants tend to be Fighting Fifth returnees.

Starting Prices

Looking back at the winning odds over the last 20 renewals, the biggest priced winner was Go Native in 2009 when winning for Noel Meade at odds of 25/1 in the horse racing betting under Davy Condon.

Punters may want to focus on the horses at the head of the market because over the last 20 renewals there has been a total of 10 winning favourites in the race.

Our 888sport antepost NAP of the day for the 2021 Fighting Fifth Hurdle on November 27th is Epatante @ 5/6.

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*


FIRST PUBLISHED: 22nd November 2021

About the Author
Steve Mullington

Steven is a sports and horseracing enthusiast and is a member of the Horseracing Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA) in the United Kingdom.

He is a regular visitor to Paris Longchamp for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and a lifelong fan of the Aintree Grand National, a subject he writes about 52 weeks of the year. Last year he reached the impressive milestone of attending the last 25 renewals of the Grand National.