Saturday Fighting Fifth Runner by Runner

1. BEDROCK

Trainer - Iain Jardine

Jockey -

Surprised all when beating Samcro by a length-and-a-half in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle almost a month ago. Form has also been boosted with the third-placed Sharjah beating stablemate Faugheen in the Morgiana recently.

The 5yo switched back to hurdles in the Autumn where his best form has been shown, having disappointed on the flat for such a long time.

Many expect Samcro to reverse the form with him, but has come on so leaps and bounds recently, and cannot be ruled out so easily.

2. BLEU ET ROUGE

Trainer - Ben Haslam

Jockey - Richie McLernon

Last seen finishing down the field in the Punchestown Champion Stayers Hurdle in April behind Faugheen.

Ran a career best in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury back in February behind Kalashnikov, but that was on heavy ground, and will be hoping for more rain ahead of Saturday.

Also a worry that he will be outclassed by most of these top hurdlers of their game.

3. BUVEUR D'AIR

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - Barry Geraghty

The star hurdler of his generation, dual Champion Hurdler Buveur D'Air is back on the scene, where he reappeared twelve months ago.

Unbeaten in his last ten starts, he has only ever been beaten once over hurdles, and that was no disgrace when finishing third to Altior in the Supreme Novice back in 2016.

On the hunt for a third Cheltenham Festival success in the Day One feature, and can consolidate his strong claims with a winning return here.

4. SAMCRO

Trainer - Gordon Elliott

Jockey -

Up steps the challenger, last year's top novice Samcro has it all to do, and all to prove, having lost his true unbeaten record at Down Royal in the WKD Hurdle.

His defeat to Bedrock - who he meets again here, was the first time he had been beaten when standing up to his fences, having fell at Punchestown at the end of last season.

Prior to that he had not lost in seven, including when taking the Ballymore at Cheltenham in tremendous style, and needs to regather that spark.

5. SUMMERVILLE BOY

Trainer - Tom George

Jockey - Noel Fehily

Winner of the other high-profile novice event at Cheltenham (Supreme Novice), Summerville Boy puts his credentials on the line over a potential avenue towards the Champion Hurdle in March.

Beat one of the Arkle market principles twice last season (Kalashnikov), in both the Tolworth and at Cheltenham, and the form bodes well when the ground is worse than soft.

Interesting to see how he matches up with Buveur D'Air and Samcro - if too his best, and a real eyeopener for Tom George on his stable star's progress.

6. VISION DES FLOS

Trainer - Colin Tizzard

Jockey -

Beaten by some top horses last year - second to Samcro in the Ballymore and second to Lalor at Aintree, and on that basis he should have a part to play here.

Found yet another one too good on his most recent start at Aintree, and others are probably preferred.

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