- Hederson said he is ‘very concerned’ about the ground conditions at Sandown
- Half an inch of rain is due to hit the Esher track between 4am and 9am Saturday
- Henderson’s Southoftheborder unseated jockey Nico de Boinville on Friday
Nicky Henderson is ‘very concerned’ about the ground conditions at Sandown ahead of making a decision on whether unbeaten Champion Hurdle winner Constitution Hill runs in Saturday’s rescheduled Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Going on the hurdle course is already heavy with up to half an inch of rain due to hit the Esher track between 4am and 9am on Saturday morning.
Sandown, which also stages the Tingle Creek Chase on Saturday afternoon in which Henderson’s Jonbon faces last season’s winner Edwardstone, trained by Alan King, must survive a 7.30am inspection but even if it does the odds of Constitution Hill running have lengthened with every drop of rain.
After watching a slow-motion finish to the Grade Two Winter Novices’ Hurdle at the track on Friday in which his runner, 11-8 favourite Southoftheborder, unseated Nico de Boinville at the penultimate flight, Henderson said: ‘It will hinge on what happens tonight but I am very concerned. Even if the race had been today I’d be nervous and wouldn’t want it to get any worse. A fit horse could cope with it but this is his first run of the season.’
Henderson also has Shishkin, who refused to race at Ascot last month, entered in the two-mile Fighting Fifth Hurdle with the option of saving Constitution Hill for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Nicky Henderson is ‘concerned’ over ground conditions at Sandown for Saturday’s meetings
Constitution Hill (pictured) is due to run in Saturday’s rescheduled Fighting Fifth Hurdle
The Sandown ground conditions put an emphasis on stamina yesterday, which played to the strengths of Paul Nicholls’ Stay Away Fay. The 8-11 favourite, ridden by Harry Cobden, beat Giovinco by one and a half lengths in the Grade Two Betfair Esher Novices’ Chase.
‘He digs deep, stays and gallops. He is a proper horse,’ said Nicholls of Stay Away Fay, who in March won the three-mile Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The gelding is now likely to be given a break before being prepared for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at this season’s Festival.
The Lucinda Russell-trained Giovinco was going well and looked the likely winner two fences out but paid the price for not settling early on.
He could next run in the Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Henderson said the call over whether the horse races will depend on conditions over night