Nicky Henderson knows Epatante will face challenges in Betfair Fighting Fifth at Newcastle
Seven Barrows trainer Nicky Henderson believes Epatante will face a ‘big test’ in Saturday’s Betfair Fighting Fifth at Newcastle.
As well as it being a big weekend at Newbury for the Lambourn trainer, with the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival taking centre stage, his eyes will be fixed on the action in the north-east at 3.15pm.
Epatante is the favourite to land a second successive victory in the race, having edged out Sceau Royal in 2020.
“She has been there before and we have used this race for years with her, Buveur D’Air and others, so it’s a race we have always been looking it.
“It will be quite a big test for her this time,” admitted Henderson. “She has to bounce back to where she was this time last year, where she beat Sceau Royal very comfortably.
“He looks in very good form at the moment and he will be hard to beat.”
Henderson will be aiming to land a fourth Fighting Fifth title in five years, with Buveu D’Air taking the glory in both 2017 and 2018.
Epatante, who won the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2020, last appeared in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in April and finished third to eventual winner Honeysuckle.
It’s expected to be a thrilling renewal of the Grade 1 race in Newcastle, with Monmiral, Sceau Royal, Silver Streak, Not So Sleepy, Belfast Banter and Voix Du Reve all due to line-up in the showdown.
The Seven Barrows team are in strong form, with Buzz enjoying a victory in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot last weekend.
“I was very happy, it was a good performance and it leads us onto the next step,” he said. “It will be interesting and the plan is to go up to three miles and back to Ascot for the Long Walk Hurdle.”