Sport

Nicky Henderson's big guns hold all the aces on quality Sandown card

Nicky Henderson is primed for a bumper Saturday, with big-hitters Constitution Hill, Shishkin and Jonbon all in action at Sandown Picture by PA
Nicky Henderson is primed for a bumper Saturday, with big-hitters Constitution Hill, Shishkin and Jonbon all in action at Sandown Picture by PA Nicky Henderson is primed for a bumper Saturday, with big-hitters Constitution Hill, Shishkin and Jonbon all in action at Sandown Picture by PA

Nicky Henderson has a huge Saturday afternoon in prospect at Sandown, with three of his stable stars declared for Grade One assignments at the Esher track.

Shishkin lines up in the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle, but the race is really all about stablemate Constitution Hill, who is impossible to oppose.

He will be long odds-on, as befits a horse who dominated the two-mile division last term and has shown an aptitude for the kind of deep ground he will face here when winning the Tolworth as a novice in January 2022.

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Jonbon is similarly difficult to look past in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase, although conditions might not be his optimum.

The only blemish on his novice chasing season came when second to El Fabiolo in the Arkle at Cheltenham, but he made amends with Maghull glory at Aintree before a successful leap to open company in the Grade One Celebration Chase at this track at the end of the campaign.

Henderson gave him a spin out at Cheltenham last month and Jonbon duly came home a comfortable nine-length winner over the reopposing Edwardstone, with little to suggest that form will be turned around here.

Willmount is another key contender for the Seven Barrows team in the opening Betfair Claremont Novices' Hurdle.

Winner of two bumpers when trained by Neil Mulholland, Willmount hacked up by 13 lengths on his hurdles bow at Newbury when he looked a really smart prospect.

The Betfair Henry VIII Novices' Chase is the third Grade One on the card and it is Jamie Snowden's Colonel Harry who takes the eye.

Grade Two placed over hurdles, he made a seamless switch to fences at Chepstow when his previous Tolworth conqueror Tahmuras trailed home last of three.

While the favourite underperformed that day, Colonel Harry sealed victory over Out Of Office with a perfect leap at the last, looking reasonable value for the official margin of two and a half lengths.

This is obviously a huge leap in level, but Colonel Harry looks sure to be a better chaser than hurdler.

The Grand National fences are in play at Aintree, with the Boylesports Becher Handicap Chase the highlight.

Highland Hunter has yet to have a spin over them, but he arrives on the back of a fine prep run when beaten two lengths by Elvis Mail at Kelso in October, with National hero Corach Rambler a disappointing fifth.

He was giving the winner 5lb on what was his first run for 630 days and his initial start for Fergal O'Brien, leaving the impression there could be plenty to work on.

The 10-year-old finished second in the Welsh National a couple of years ago and has relatively few miles on the clock for a horse of his age.

Onesmoothoperator returns to Newcastle for the Boost Your Acca-Fenwa With BetUK Handicap in search of a follow up to his win in the rescheduled November Handicap.

Brian Ellison's charge was well supported on the day and the confidence proved justified as he snapped a near two-year losing run with a neck verdict over Struth.

A 3lb rise does not look too harsh given the competitive nature of that race and while dropping back to 10 furlongs is a slight question mark given he has been running over further, Onesmoothoperator is a previous winner at the trip.

IRISH NEWS YANKEE

NAP Jonbon (3.00 Sandown)

DOUBLE Willmount (11.35 Sandown)

TREBLEColonel Harry (1.50 Sandown)

YANKEE Highland Hunter (2.05 Aintree)