Back

Irving can deliver knockout blow in Fighting Fifth Hurdle

Irving can make his speed tell to land today’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle (2.05) in what could turn out to be a tactically ran affair.

A smart performer on the flat in Germany, the son of Singspiel made a smooth transition to hurdling last season when winning on his first four starts for trainer Paul Nicholls.

After running out a facile winner on debut at Taunton, the six-year-old had little trouble in following up in similar fashion at Ascot when beating the highly regarded Volnay De Thaix by eight lengths.

Irving then returned to that latter venue for the Grade 2 Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle, where he again travelled strongly and was challenging Prince Siegfried on the bridle at the last when that rival came to grief and allowed him to stroll home.

He then won the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton in effortless style, before tasting defeat for the first time when ninth of 18 to Vautour in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Irving was then off the track for 242 days before reappearing in the Elire Hurdle at Wincanton earlier in the month, and looked set to resume winning ways only to come to grief at the final flight when upsides the leader.

If that fall hasn’t left any lasting effects, then Irving is going to be very tough to beat and his potent turn of foot will be a major asset as this contest could well turn into a muddling and slow run race.

Obvious dangers, in what isn’t a vintage renewal, are Artic Fire and Aurore D’estruval. The former is trained in Ireland by Willie Mullins and showed progressive form last season, finishing second in the County Hurdle before scoring in good style at the Punchestown Festival.

This five-year-old shaped well on seasonal reappearance when runner-up to Little King Robin in a Grade 2 contest at Down Royal, but I think he needs a strong gallop to be seen to maximum effect and the son of Solider Hollow is unlikely to get that today.

Aurore D’estruval represents trainer John Quinn and receives a handy 7lb fillies’ allowance from Irving.

The four-year-old showed a decent level of form in just three starts over hurdles last season and looked better than ever when slamming Emily Grey by 10 lengths in a Grade 2 contest at Wetherby on reappearance.

This daughter of Nickname is clearly going the right way, but whether she will have the pace to cope with an on-song Irving is doubtful.