By Simon Jackson.
Newbury Racecourse today stages the first of the three-day bet365 Festival which runs from Thursday to Saturday and is highlighted by the £200,000 Hennessy Gold Cup on the last day.
Today’s seven-race card features the £45,000 Listed bet365 Intermediate Hurdle (3.15pm) which has attracted a field of seven runners and includes the Evan Williams-trained John Constable who is unbeaten in two starts over hurdles.
The son of Montjeu was first trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, where he won one of 11 runs on the flat, but has shown greatly improved form since switching to hurdles at the start of this year.
The four-year-old captured a maiden hurdle at Ludlow in January and returned from a short break to win a two-mile novices’ hurdle by five lengths at Huntingdon in April.
The colt is reported by Williams to be in good form ahead of his first start of the new campaign where he has been allotted joint-top-weight with French import Ch’Tibello in the extended two mile contest that has attracted a field of seven runners.
“John Constable has had a grand preparation. I just never thought we would be lumbered with top-weight in a race like this after winning two small hurdle races,” Williams said.
“To be honest, I don’t know how we have earned the right to carry top-weight. It is difficult to know what to expect and it might be that he is facing an impossible task on his seasonal reappearance.
“The ground is going to be quite testing. I don’t know if that will count for us or against us, but, with a four-year-old carrying all that weight in testing conditions, I don’t think it will be in our favour.”
In other races today the David Pipe-trained Un Temps Pour Tout – the winner of the French Champion Hurdle in June – features among seven runners in the £35,000 Grade 2 bet365 Novices’ Chase (2.10pm) over and extended two miles and seven furlongs.
Racing today commences at 12.30pm and concludes at 3.50pm.
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.