Constitution Hill is preparing to take on 10 rivals in the William Hill Aintree Hurdle on Thursday. The six-year-old has enjoyed a fantastic campaign so far, triumphing in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, before delivering a brilliant display in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month. Nicky Henderson’s stable star will be heavily favored to continue his unbeaten run on Merseyside, after which his connections will decide whether to take the same route next season or switch to a career over fences. Epatante, the reigning Aintree Hurdle champion, could challenge her esteemed stable companion again.
Champion Hurdle third Zanahiyr and stablemate Fil Dor, as well as the Willie Mullins-trained Sharjah, and Oliver McKiernan’s Meet And Greet could all make the trip from Ireland to Aintree. Olly Murphy could run both Brewin’upastorm and Itchy Feet, with Nigel Twiston-Davies’ I Like To Move It, Alan King’s Sceau Royal, and Paul Nicholls’ Knappers Hill completing the lineup.
The Alder Hey Aintree Bowl, which takes place before the Aintree Hurdle, also promises to be an enthralling contest. Trainer Paul Nicholls looks set to enter Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Bravemansgame, while Henderson has expressed his intention to step Shishkin up to three miles for the first time under rules. Ga Law, who finished fifth in the Ryanair Chase last time out, could take part in the Bowl after falling in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in January, which ruled out a tilt at the Grand National.
The two-and-a-half-mile Racehorse Lotto Manifesto Novices’ Chase will be the first of four Grade Ones on the first day of the Grand National meeting. Leading hopes include Cheltenham hero Stage Star, and Arkle runner-up Jonbon. Datsalrightgino, who was pulled up in the Magners Plate at the Festival, could also take part, with the decent Grade Two Novices’ Chase at Ayr another option.
The Jewson Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle has attracted 15 youngsters, including Cheltenham absentees Bo Zenith and Scriptwriter.