‘All options open’ as Constitution Hill and Epatante in Fighting Fifth

Nicky Henderson is “keeping all options open” after confirming both Constitution Hill and Epatante for the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

Constitution Hill, a hot favourite for the Champion Hurdle following his scintillating display in the Supreme last season, had been due to make his reappearance in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot but was taken out on Saturday morning due to unsuitable ground.

Henderson now faces a difficult decision on whether to run the five-year-old against his 2020 Champion Hurdle winner Epatante at Gosforth Park in a race she won outright two years ago before dead-heating with Not So Sleepy 12 months ago.

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Nicky Henderson admitted running Constitution Hill at Ascot would have led to his horse to be in his box for the remainder of the season

“We’re keeping all options open, that’s all,” the Seven Barrows handler said on Monday morning.

“The ground is soft up there [Newcastle] at the moment.”

Next month’s International Hurdle at Cheltenham has been raised as an option for Constitution Hill, and while Henderson has already admitted that may not be ideal timing-wise due to its proximity to the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day it could lead to the Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown over the festive period.

Haydock’s Champion Hurdle Trial in January is another race that has been mentioned on the way to Cheltenham.

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Henderson admitted the decision was an easy one to withdraw Constitution Hill at Ascot due to the ground

Henderson’s duo have been joined by Gordon Elliott’s classy four-year-old Pied Piper as well as Not So Sleepy, who dead-heated with Epatante in the race last season for the Hughie Morrison team.

Tommy’s Oscar (Ann Hamilton) and Voix Du Reve (Iain Jardine) complete the sextet.

Also featuring on what could be a top-class card is the Rehearsal Chase, in which Venetia Williams has entered Gold Cup hope L’Homme Presse, who like Constitution Hill was a non-runner at Ascot at the weekend.


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