A RARE Triple Crown attempt is on the cards for Constitution Hill as racing’s most exciting prospect is finally unleashed at Newcastle today.
After only three runs, Constitution Hill is just 7lb off officially being more talented than triple Champion Hurdle hero and legend Istabraq – that's why today’s Grade 1 event is a ‘must win’ event.
Last Saturday we all expected Nicky Henderson’s brilliant Supreme hero to be back with a bang at Ascot, but fast ground conditions put paid to that prospect.
Today, live on ITV, Constitution Hill tries again and to justify his mark of 170 he must defeat former Champion Hurdle victor and stable companion Epatante convincingly in the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
The Fighting Fifth is the first leg of jump racing’s rarely talked about Triple Crown, which also includes the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and, of course, the Champion at Cheltenham in March.
I fancy Corach Rambler to do a job for the brilliant Lucinda Russeell and Derek Fox in the 3.05 at Newbury
Two horses achieved the feat in relatively recent times, namely the fabulous grey Kribensis for Sir Michael Stoute and Henderson’s Buveur d’Air.
In the ante-post markets, Constitution Hill is generally 5-4 to land the main contest after looking a worldy at Cheltenham this year under Nico de Boinville.
Since the Anglo-Irish Classifications started at the turn of the century, the top three Champion Hurdle performances have been Istabraq (176), Hurricane Fly (175) and Faugheen the machine (174).
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So it’s easy to see just how special Constitution Hill appears with his mark gained in such a light career to date. He could be the best ever.
But he has to blow Epatante away this afternoon for owner Michael Buckley.
Betting-wise there’s no doubt the Coral Gold Cup Handicap Chase takes centre stage at Newbury.
To many this is the former Hennessy, and I wish Coral had called it the Coral Hennessy, but hey what do I know?
They would argue everyone would then just call it the Hennessy, but I’m not so sure.
And I think it would have given the staying handicap a massive boost in status.
This a huge for the McNeill Family, who rely on Threeunderthrufive for the champion Paul Nicholls and Adrian Heskin.
McNEILL FAMILY TARGET GLORY
The McNeills were telling me at Ascot last weekend that the Newbury feature is a race they have always yearned to win, but have never had the right horse to take up the challenge.
So Threeunderthrufive is the McNeill’s first ever runner in the three-mile and two furlong romp, and has every chance after a comeback spin over hurdles at Wetherby which suggested the Brown Advisory sixth still has more to offer.
David Pipe has a strong hand with Remastered and Gericault Roque, who met at Aintree on November 5.
The latter disappointed that day as Remastered returned with a decent success, but stable rider Tom Scudamore keeps the mount on Gericault and you can expect a better effort.
I’m going to be backing Scottish raider Corach Rambler for Lucinda Russell and Tom’s old man Peter Scudamore.
I’m not sure there are many young improvers in this heat, but eight-year-old Corach Rambler might be the one under Derek Fox.
Ground and distance are no issue, and off a mark 7lb lower my hope was a fantastic winner of the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival.
In that race he had Gericault Roque and the also re-opposing Oscar Elite (bled) behind. Our Power was back in fifth.
Corach Rambler has to be delivered late, but he’s got the class for this there is no doubt and will have blown cobwebs away at Carlisle the other day.
Elsewhere at Newbury, the Grade 2 Coral John Francome Novices’ Chase is a belter over nearly three miles.
WILL HENDO UNLEASH ANOTHER STAR?
Former crack staying hurdler Thyme Hill – winner of the Long Distance Hurdle at this track in 2020 – should take some stopping for the master trainer Philip Hobbs and Tom O’Brien.
Thyme Hill jumped well on chasing debut at Exeter, but this is no easy task as he faces quality in Gelino Bello and McFabulous from the Nicholls stable.
The opening mares’ novice hurdle also marks the jumps debut of prolific bumper winner Luccia from the Henderson stable.
Meanwhile, back up at Newcastle Gold Cup hope L’Homme Presse is out in the Betfair Exchange Rehearsal Handicap Chase.
Five-timer-seeking Into Overdrive, tough and defending champion Aye Right and Happygolucky are no mugs, but if he’s got a chance in a Gold Cup Venetia Williams’ star Brown Advisory hero must surely be too classy.
A terrific Saturday of racing, and with Scotland not featuring in the World Cup what a chance to take sporting centre stage at Newbury!
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