Constitution Hill’s return hinges on late Ascot track walk

Constitution Hill’s eagerly-anticipated reappearance in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot hinges on a late track walk from trainer Nicky Henderson on Saturday morning.

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner is set to take on four rivals in what would be his first step on the road to a shot at the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Henderson has been nervously watching the ground at Ascot shift dramatically this week, with heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday bringing some much-needed ease in the going.

However, dry conditions on the opening day of the November Racing Weekend on Friday saw the ground changed to good to soft, good in places, with no further rain forecast to fall before Saturday’s action.

“The ground has been bizarre all week,” Henderson told Sky Sports Racing. “Chris [Stickels, Ascot clerk of the course] warned us on Tuesday when he went good, good to firm in places and gave us a sleepless night, thinking there’s no way he’s going to run on that.

“Then the rain came and it went to good to soft, soft in places and we thought: ‘Great’.

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Jockey Nico de Boinville is wishing the sun away at Ascot with drying ground a concern for the Constitution Hill team ahead of Saturday’s Coral Hurdle, live on Sky Sports Racing.

“The rain goes through the ground so quickly, it’s bizarre.

“We’ve got to monitor tonight and see what the morning brings. That was beautiful ground today and if it was like that tomorrow then not a worry.

“These are serious horses having their first runs of the year and we have to make sure it’s safe for them. That’s all that matters. We have to do what is right for the horse in the long-term.

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Trainer Olly Murphy says he is not going to be scared off by the prospect of coming up against superstar Constitution Hill in Saturday’s Coral Hurdle at Ascot, live on Sky Sports Racing.

“When you get horses as good as this it would be crazy to start taking risks. I know it’d be disappointing for everybody.

“We’ll have a walk round in the morning. No chances will be taken.”

Constitution Hill’s rider Nico de Boinville was also concerned by the drying ground when speaking before Friday’s racing.

“The sun is out and I could probably do with it clouding over,” he said.

“It looks the perfect starting point for him, it’s a lovely race and there’s a good bit of pace in there so fingers crossed.

“Horses like this don’t come along every day so I try to enjoy it as much as I can and make the most of it.”


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