Nicky Henderson has given the go-ahead for Constitution Hill to make his eagerly-anticipated return at Ascot on Saturday, following welcome rain at the Berkshire track.
Widely considered the most exciting young horse in National Hunt racing, the five-year-old dominated his rivals in three starts over hurdles last season and his performance in defeating stablemate Jonbon in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March was nothing short of sensational.
Henderson has long since pencilled in this weekend’s Coral Hurdle as Constitution Hill’s intended comeback target, but has been at pains to warn his participation was dependent on suitable ground conditions.
However, with the official going easing to good to soft on Wednesday morning ahead of further forecast rain, the horse who is a best-priced 5-4 favourite for this season’s Champion Hurdle is now all set to take his chance.
Speaking after seeing Jonbon make a flying start to his career over fences at Warwick, Henderson said: “It (the ground) is fine. I didn’t even have a sleepless night last night – the night before was hell!
“We were thinking ‘how firm do we let it get’, or ‘how good has it got to get’, but no – as long as he survives the next two days, he’s all ready to go.”
Constitution Hill’s potential rivals include Olly Murphy’s Brewin’upastorm and the Gary Moore-trained Goshen, but he appears unlikely to face his two engaged stablemates Theatre Glory and Call Me Lord.
“We’ll see what’s involved in the race. I probably won’t run the other two,” Henderson added.
The Seven Barrows handler was delighted to be back on the racecourse at Warwick, having missed Cheltenham’s November meeting on doctor’s orders.
He also hopes Jonbon’s facile victory is a sign of things to come following a relatively slow start to the campaign.
“I’m fine. They (doctors) checked me in and locked me in with a key, luckily I found the key! I don’t know what was wrong, but we won’t worry about it,” said Henderson.
“We’ve been behind. I don’t like playing on fast ground, it’s been too quick and it’s been too quick at home. This (Jonbon) is the first of the A-team to come out, then we have Saturday. It’s nice to get going.”