Captain Guinness set to tackle Jonbon in bid to secure elusive Grade One victory

Constitution Hill now likely to take his chance in rescheduled Fighting Fifth Hurdle

He will have to overcome old rival Jonbon to manage it, but Captain Guinness has a shot at finally becoming a Grade One bride at Sandown on Saturday.

Irish hopes of success in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase revolve around Henry De Bromhead’s two-mile star after just six entries were left in the prestigious contest at Monday’s acceptance stage.

Captain Guinness has won half a dozen of his 20 career starts to date but always come up short at the top level.

Last season contained a frustrating hat-trick of runner-up placings, including behind Jonbon in the Celebration Chase in April over this weekend’s course and distance.


Before that, Captain Guinness was second to Energumene in Champion Chase at Cheltenham and filled the same spot behind Blue Lord at Leopardstown.

“It would be great to see him win a Grade One sometime. All he needs to do now is get one at the top level on his CV,” De Bromhead said on Monday.

Jonbon has been installed an odds-on favourite to follow up his impressive return to action at Cheltenham.

However, Captain Guinness also caught the eye with his comeback victory in the Fortria at Navan and is a 9-2 second-best in the betting with some firms.

Both De Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore are searching for their first top-flight success of the season, although the Co Waterford trainer can already boast a Tingle Creek success with Sizing Europe in 2011.

“We were delighted with his comeback at Navan. He looked really well and was in great form. He jumped great and travelled really well. I thought everything he did was good,” De Bromhead said.

“He might have only won one race last season, but we were delighted how the campaign went.

“He was second in the Champion Chase, and second in the Celebration Chase at Sandown and second in the Grade One at Leopardstown over Christmas so you can only be delighted.

“Obviously you would love to be winning these races, but he is so consistent which is brilliant,” he added.

Saturday’s Sandown card will also host the transferred Fighting Fifth Hurdle switched from Newcastle after last weekend’s cancellation.

Gordon Elliott left Irish Point among eight entries for the race on Monday but the good news for Sandown is the increasing likelihood of Constitution Hill lining up.

Nicky Henderson had suggested he might wait for the Christmas Hurdle to run his superstar performer but appears to have had a change of heart.

“There’s a pretty good chance he’ll run, I’d say. It’s going to be a wet week but he goes in heavy ground. I’d say he’s more likely to run than not, but it is a very difficult call, so everyone just needs to bear with us,” Henderson reported.

The trainer will, however, run his enigmatic star Shishkin in the race as part of an unusual prep for the King George VI Chase on St Stephen’s Day.

“Shishkin needs a run and I think this is the easiest and kindest way to do it,” he said.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column