Constitution Hill and Shishkin plans now up in the air

Nicky Henderson will make alternative plans for Constitution Hill and Shishkin following the abandonment of Saturday’s high-profile fixture at Newcastle.

Constitution Hill was due to bid for back-to-back victories in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Gosforth Park, with Shishkin set to join his esteemed stablemate on the trip to the north east for a redemption mission in the Rehearsal Chase, having refused to start in last weekend’s 1965 Chase at Ascot.

But with course officials calling off the meeting on Friday after significant snow fell on the covered track, Henderson is now contemplating his next move.

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Nicky Henderson at Newbury on Friday
Nicky Henderson at Newbury on Friday (David Davies/PA)

While raising the possibility of the Fighting Fifth being rescheduled, the Seven Barrows handler would be happy to head straight to the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day with Constitution Hill.

What is causing him a bigger headache is how best to prepare Shishkin for an intended tilt at the King George VI Chase on the same Kempton card.

“The one I’m more concerned about is Shishkin,” Henderson told Racing TV at Newbury on Friday. “From Constitution Hill’s point of view, if he had to go to Kempton without a run, that would not worry me at all, whereas Shishkin going to the King George without a run does not sit comfortably.

Shishkin in action at Aintree
Shishkin in action at Aintree (David Davies/The Jockey Club)

“We have no option with Shishkin, there might be an option with Constitution Hill, as I know the powers that be are working like beavers to try and reconstruct a Fighting Fifth.

“But on the other hand, we wouldn’t want to go too far away from today, because you’re getting terribly close to Christmas itself and 16 or 17 days (between runs) doesn’t appeal to me enormously.

“I don’t think Shishkin is necessarily a doubt (for the King George), but he needs to go and have a good gallop somewhere. He’ll have to do some work in the meantime.”

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