Menu
  News John Constable in the frame for Gerry Feilden honours

John Constable in the frame for Gerry Feilden honours

racing

John Constable puts his unbeaten record on the line at Newbury when making his seasonal return in the bet365 Intermediate Hurdle.

John Constable puts his unbeaten record on the line at Newbury when making his seasonal return in the bet365 Intermediate Hurdle.

Having made a smooth transition to hurdles last season, the four-year-old faces his sternest test to date since his switch from the Flat in the Listed prize, better known as the Gerry Feilden, which includes on its recent roll of honour former Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby (2011).

Although trainer Evan Williams feels he may be a shade too high in the weights off a mark of 137, he has reported the former Aidan O'Brien-trained gelding to be in good shape.

Williams said: "It is a very competitive and difficult race and it's never ideal carrying that type of weight in that ground, but we have to start somewhere with him.

"I think he is harshly handicapped as I can't see where they have got the mark of 137 from. He is a lovely horse, though, and hopefully the handicapper has got it right.

"The horse has done plenty of work and is in great form, but ours tend to improve for a run or two."

After sending out Kilcooley to finish second in the extended two-mile affair 12 months ago, trainer Charlie Longsdon expects Wilberdragon, his representative in this year's renewal, to strip a lot fitter than when finishing a close-up fifth in a Listed race at Ascot last month.

He said: "I am looking forward to seeing Wilberdragon run as the race is not as strong as in previous years.

"He ran a cracker at Ascot and was only beaten just over five lengths. He will have improved a lot for that run, it's just a case, like many others in the race, if he will go in the ground."

The Dan Skelton-trained Ch'tibello attempts to go one better than on both his previous two starts in Britain.

Skelton said: "He is top weight and I would have preferred it if something else was up there in the weights, but there is only eight or nine pounds covering them.

"Although it is a competitive little race, it's probably not the strongest Gerry Feilden there has been and I've always had this race in mind for him. His fitness is fine and there won't be any excuses.

"His form is solid having run Altior close who has since won a Grade Two at Cheltenham, while Francis Of Assisi who beat him first time out ran well in the Elite. This is a stepping stone for him."

San Benedeto, the representative of champion trainer Paul Nicholls, bids to follow up a facile success at Wincanton. Completing the seven-runner field is the Philip Hobbs-trained Sternrubin, Song Light from the yard of Seamus Mullins and Kapstadt, who will line up for Ian Williams.