Ante-Post Armchair: Constitution Hill Pulverises Field

CONSTITUTION HILL is a best-priced 9/4 (Paddy Power/Betfair) to land the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in nine weeks time, after an empathic 12-length romp to land the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.

Connections were blown away by Constitution Hill after another straightforward success at Sandown.

The son of Blue Bresil jumped well and travelled strongly, before powering clear in the closing stages. The manner in which he went about his business was the most impressive factor; he didn’t just grind his opposition into the ground – instead, he showed a very smart turn of foot to quicken away from his rivals in bottomless ground. Given that his success at Sandown on his penultimate star was also on rain-softened ground, the straw-clutchers amongst us may just wonder about his ability to cope with faster underfoot conditions should he encounter them at Prestbury Park. The way he went through the gears, and the comments of jockey Nico De Boinville in the aftermath seem to indicate that connections are not too perturbed about that issue.

In regards to Cheltenham Festival running plans, does this leave the master of Seven Barrows a beleaguered individual with potential superstar JONBON in the same stable. Henderson has refused to rule out the possibility of either horse stepping up in trip to tackle the Ballymore to avoid them clashing, but his initial instinctive comment of “they both look two-milers to me” probably serves up the best clue to where both prospects will end up.

Champion Bumper winner Sir Gerhard made a seamless transition to hurdling with a straightforward victory in the Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Providing the owners are fair game, it would be the percentage play that both go for the two mile option. Throw in last year’s Champion Bumper winner SIR GERHARD (5/1 generally) into the mix, and the usual plethora of unexposed challengers, it appears that this year’s curtain raiser at the Cheltenham Festival has the propensity to be epic.

A reality check needs to put in place as we are still two months away, but we are allowed to dream aren’t we? Either way, with many of the ante-post markets being dominated by the Irish, the ‘home defence’ appear to have a couple of battalions to offer some serious resistance. Of those in behind, the horse that was pulled-up, the Jamie Snowden trained DATSALRIGHTGINO, clearly hated the ground, and will much more of interest in a spring handicap on a sound surface and goes into the notebook.

Sky Is The Limit For Martello

The Mare made it six wins from eight starts over hurdles in gritty fashion

Martello Sky motored to Sandown Listed success and booked tickets to Cheltenham Festival.

In desperate ground at the Esher venue, MARTELLO SKY notched up yet another success to scoop Listed honours for the combination of Aidan Coleman and Lucy Wadham on Saturday. The progressive six-year-old is clearly in fine fettle, and deserves a crack at the Mares’ Hurdle itself in March. The overall balance of her form suggests she may come up short, but as a 16/1 poke (Hills, Coral) a case can be made from an each-way point of view – she is versatile in regards to ground requirements and has some winning form at Prestbury Park in her portfolio. This unexposed sort will have her supporters in a couple of months time.

Is Sam A Handicap Saint?

We saw a very taking performance from the five-year-old.

High-class hurdler Saint Sam made a successful start to his career over fences in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse.

SAINT SAM produced a smart performance at the first time of asking over fences to win the 2m1f Beginners Chase at Fairyhouse on Sunday. Yet another winner for the red-hot Willie Mullins team, he jumped superbly as he ran his rivals ragged to score by nine lengths under Paul Townend. You can question the strength of the form, but he looked to really enjoy himself over the bigger obstacles, and Soft ground clearly suits him. It was interesting that connections left the hood off, and he tackled his fences with plenty of enthusiasm, and this strapping sort looks to have a bright future. He has been given quotes of 33/1 (Paddy Power) for both The Arkle and the Turners Chase and Mullins has indicated that he will send Saint Sam into deeper waters next time out. I just wonder if the handicap route in the spring may be a more realistic option providing the ground is on the slow side, but nonetheless, it is good to have these options.