Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
Top horse racing tips and the latest news.
CONSTITUTION Hill makes his much-anticipated comeback in the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.
The wide-margin winner of all of his three starts under rules is 5-4 favourite for the Champion Hurdle and was scratched from his intended comeback race at Ascot last Saturday due to unsuitably firm ground.
Trainer Nicky Henderson and owner Michael Buckley have reacted swiftly in selecting a starting point for the season for the five-year-old who finished his last campaign with a 22 length win in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Constitution Hill heads the betting at 1-4 for Saturday’s Grade 1 contest from stablemate Epatante who is targeting a third successive win in the race after winning in 2020 and dead-heating for first place last year.
“We’ve made the decision this morning and we’re going to run Constitution Hill at Newcastle this weekend,” said Henderson. “We’re happy for him to go there and Epatante will run there as well.”
“Michael Buckley and I have discussed it ever since the weekend and it was really a toss-up between going to Newcastle or waiting for the International Hurdle at Cheltenham next month and Michael quite rightly decided yesterday he’d like to go to Newcastle.
“The horse is fit and well and if we wait another fortnight anything could happen. Bear in mind the weather could stay like it has done down south, so there is a risk that Cheltenham could stay as it was for the last meeting and we can’t risk that and we’ve decided we’ve got to get on and go.
“He was very fit and well last weekend and hopefully he still is this weekend. In the beginning we were hoping he and Epatante wouldn’t have to meet at this stage of the season but the dice has gone that way and we’ve got to let them both run. It’s a proper Grade 1 race.”
News of Constitution Hill’s participation delighted the sponsors. Betfair spokesman Barry Orr said: ‘’As sponsors we are obviously delighted with the news. It’s not only great for the race but also for the National Hunt game in general that Nicky, with the respective owners, have elected to run both horses’.”
“That competitive element has been sadly lacking in recent renewals of the race but this is a step in the right direction and will make the ‘Fighting Fifth’ the must watch race of the weekend.”
Fighting Fifth Hurdle odds (Betfair): 1-4 Constitution Hill, 3-1 Epatante, 10 Not So Sleepy, 16 Pied Piper, Tommy’s Oscar, 100 Voix Du Reve
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