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    09 December 2023

    Uncertainty Surrounding Participation of Henderson’s Prominent Runners at Sandown

    The Return of Constitution Hill Hangs in the Balance

    In an unexpected turn of events, the highly anticipated return of Constitution Hill in the rearranged Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle is now uncertain. Sandown recently called for an inspection ahead of their Tingle Creek card on Saturday, which could potentially disrupt plans once again.

    Originally scheduled to appear at Newcastle last weekend before adverse weather conditions forced a switch south and a delay by seven days, Constitution Hill’s comeback now faces potential interference due to wet weather forecasted overnight. The hurdles course has already been described as heavy with soft patches, and any additional rain would make it even more challenging to navigate.

    Nicky Henderson, trainer of unbeaten Champion Hurdle hero Constitution Hill and King George-bound stablemate Shishkin, will have some crucial decisions to make come Saturday morning. When asked about the situation, Henderson expressed his uncertainty: “We’ve got to wait and make our decisions as well and we will wait to see what the morning brings.”

    This could be a significant afternoon for Seven Barrows handler Henderson as he not only prepares Constitution Hill and Shishkin for the Fighting Fifth but also saddles heavy Betfair Tingle Creek favorite Jonbon along with leading novice hope Willmount. However, doubts surround their participation on Saturday as well. Henderson commented on this saying: “There certainly is [doubt], and at the moment I’m trying to reach out to various owners via telephone calls to discuss our options; it’s all hands-on deck.”

    Concerns about the ground conditions have already led Henderson to withdraw the well-fancied Immortal from a race on Friday’s card. Sandown clerk of the course, Andrew Cooper, explained why an inspection was necessary: “We are racing today on extremely soft ground and with the potential of a good volume of rain in the early hours, I think it is sensible to take stock and see what happens tomorrow morning.”

    Cooper also acknowledged that predicting how much rainfall a course can handle is not always straightforward: “It can be hard to be too dogmatic as to what the tipping point is, as sometimes you are surprised how much rain the course will take and sometimes you are disappointed how little the course will take.” However, he remains optimistic about racing going ahead: “My gut feeling is that we will be OK. It is a marvelous day of racing and we will do everything we can to ensure it goes ahead.”

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