Constitution Hill will face four rivals in Saturday’s Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, live on Sky Sports Racing.
Nicky Henderson’s star has been redirected to the Grade One contest where he will face fellow and two-time champion Amazingafter being withdrawn from the Coral Hurdle at Ascot last weekend due to dry ground conditions.
With Gordon Elliott’s Little Pig expectedly absent from the final declaration stage, the biggest threat to the Henderson duo is likely to be Hughie Morrison Not so sleepy and teaching Ann Hamilton Oscar Tommy.
Not So Sleepy has an interesting history in the race because, as well as a dead heat 12 months ago, he caused quite a bit of havoc the year before when he betrayed and dropped a place in the first, completing the Silver Streak in the process.
Meanwhile, ‘Oscar’ Tommy returns to steeplechasing after two promising starts over fences.
Iain Jardine training The voice of a dream – who ran in the last two updates – completes the top five.
Coleman: Epatante needs to up its game
Aidan Coleman knows Epatante may have to up her game again if she is to win Betfair’s barrier five for a third time on Saturday.
The Nicky Henderson-bred mare had a 2020 success beating Sco Royal to finish second in the Christmas Hurdle, while last year she had a sharp performance with Not So Sleepy at Newcastle before landing this time Christmas barriers.
After Boxing Day, she was not seen again until the Championship Hurdle in March, where she finished second to Honeysuckle in the two-mile Championship, which she raised in 2020.
Brilliant after the Aintree Hurdle, the eight-year-old, owned by J. P McManus, now has the terrifying prospect of beating stablemate Constitution Hill as she looks to join Comedy Of Errors and Birds Nest as three-time winner of the Fighting Fifth. after it was diverted from Ascot last weekend.
Coleman will again manage Epatante and said: “It’s a good race but she’s a good mare who had a great season last year.
“She should be better. It’s a new year and a new race and these races are very hard to win, but we’ll be there trying to give it our all.
“They might be watering at Newcastle – it’s been a crazy season, hasn’t it – but I’m not worried about that.”
L’Homme Presse among the nine in an exciting rehearsal
Winner of the Cheltenham Festival A busy man is headed by a strong-looking renewal of art Betfair Exchange Rehearsal Handicap Chase on the same map.
Venetia Williams’ runner was also a no-show at Ascot last Saturday and will now have to carry the 12-stone in the Premier Handicap at Gosforth Park.
Last year’s winner Yeswho won an epic duel with Good Boy Bobby is back on.
Kim Bailey has announced the winner of the Aintree Grade Three Happy successand Sandy Thomson Dingo dollar and Brian Ellison Windsor Ave add to the intriguing contest.