The contest is known to many as an early-season trial for the Champion Hurdle, with the Nicky Henderson-trained Punjabi (2008) and Buveur D’Air as previously mentioned (2018), the last horses to win both races in the same season.
An early-season trial for the Champion Hurdle, as well as being an early-season treat for all racing fans. Rarely do you see such clashes so early on in the season, as many try to avoid each other's paths on the road to the Cheltenham Festival. Samcro and Summerville are just two of the five trying to bring an end to Buveur D'Air's supremacy in this division.
A Grade 1, with top hurdlers staking their credentials, all but one of the last sixteen winners had won at least a Grade 2 before. Ten of the last 16 victors had won their last race, with the same number running in the six weeks leading up to this feature - 14 of those (16) finishing in the top two. 13 of the last 16 had won at least four times over hurdles in the past, but due to Newcastle poor overall fixture list, only three winners had actually raced over hurdles at Newcastle before.
Favourites have a good enough record to attract market interest, with half of the last 16 favourites going onto win this Northern feature; an average SP of 5/1. Samcro - represents Ireland, who have a satisfactory record in the race, winning six of the last sixteen. Nicky Henderson (BVD) has won it four times, with Paul Nicholls claiming it twice, both successes coming in the last four years.
13 of the last 16 winners went on to race in the Champion Hurdle later that same season, with 10 of those placing in the top three. 12 of the last sixteen were rated 151 or higher, meaning it all looks positive for all the runners bar one here, including last year's Ballymore victor - Samcro, the Supreme Novice Champion - Summerville Boy, and the one they all need to beat .. Buveur D'Air.