Epatante and Not So Sleepy set for Christmas Hurdle rematch

Fighting Fifth dead-heaters Epatante and Not So Sleepy meet again in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Nicky Henderson’s mare Epatante won the race in 2019 before she went on to land the Champion Hurdle, but it has not been plain sailing since then.

She underwent surgery in the summer for a back issue which Henderson felt was hindering her hurdling and she then shared victory at Newcastle on her return.

Beaten by Silver Streak in this race 12 months ago, Henderson hopes she is a different proposition this year.

“You wouldn’t want to see the Epatante that was at Kempton last year, I think she was uncomfortable before the race and she didn’t jump with her normal accuracy and speed. She was very fidgety before the race, but take nothing away from Silver Streak,” he said.

“I’d have to say I’m very happy.”

Hughie Morrison’s nine-year-old Not So Sleepy gained his first Grade One win at Newcastle, showing his versatility having also been a smart performer on the Flat.

“He has probably improved two or three pounds since last spring but he did deserve a win in a race like the Fighting Fifth,” said Morrison.

Tritonic's participation is not certain
Tritonic’s participation is not certain (Nigel French/PA)

Last Saturday’s Ascot winner Tritonic also features among five declarations along with Soaring Glory and Glory And Fortune.

However, his trainer Alan King has yet to make a final call on whether he will run.

He said: “I’ve no idea if he is going to run or not. I won’t make a decision until tomorrow.

“He’s taken the race well and we will do a little breeze in the morning and then decide.”

Ahoy Senor was very impressive at Newbury
Ahoy Senor was very impressive at Newbury (Steven Paston/PA)

As well as the King George VI Chase and Christmas Hurdle, there is a third Grade One on the card in the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase which sees a mouthwatering clash between Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame.

Both were Grade One-winning novice hurdlers last season and have taken extremely well to fences.

Lucinda Russell’s Ahoy Senor tipped up on his chasing debut at Carlisle but was extremely impressive in Grade Two company at Newbury.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Bravemansgame arrives unbeaten in two runs over fences at Newton Abbot and Haydock, where he accounted for more experienced rivals in Fusil Raffles and Itchy Feet respectively.

Kiltealy Briggs and Tea Clipper complete the field.

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