PAT HEALY: In his latest blog: “I think that people that have never put anything into racing have a cheek giving out about Henderson” ….

Constitution Hill’s withdrawal

It’s amazing, I never knew there were so many experts on ground, on going, until Nicky Henderson withdrew Constitution Hill last Saturday.

I feel sorry for Ascot Clerk of the Course, Chris Stickels, as I think his hands were tied with the going description he had to give. Johnny ‘Pinkie’ Burke, who rode a winner on the card, has to my mind come out with the most intelligent statement when he said the problem in Britain is the going descriptions they give.

The going at Ascot last Saturday was given as ‘good-to-soft’, now, in Ireland we have a description in between that, and we use the word yielding. The going cannot be good and soft. In 42 years of going racing, I’ve never been at a racetrack where part of the ground is good and part of the ground is soft, I’ve never seen that. To my mind the going at Ascot on Saturday was good.

There’s no such going as ‘good-to-soft’, but that’s the card that Chris Stickels has been dealt, because they don’t use yielding in their going language in Britain. I think, therein lies the problem and Johnny Burke is the only man to have come out and said it, and he’s bang on the money.

If they declared the ground at Ascot as good-to-yielding, it would give Chris Stickels a better chance. People would be on their guard, and when Nicky Henderson did his interviews to media on the Friday he could have said ‘the description is good-to-yielding, it’s drying out, we won’t be running tomorrow.’

The facts are that Nicky Henderson didn’t want to run the horse, that’s fine, he’s the trainer of the horse and I’m sure it was a collective decision between the trainer, Michael Buckley and Nico de Boinville. I feel sorry for the trainer and owner as they will have been aware many people came to Ascot to see Constitution Hill run, but they had to mind their horse.

According to all the figures and ratings, this could be the best hurdler ever. Of course they’re going to mind him. I think that people that have never put anything into racing have a cheek giving out about Henderson – they’re the ones screaming and shouting the loudest. He made a decision, move on. Rectify the mistake, which for me is the going description that’s been given out.

I do feel sorry for people who paid money to go to Ascot on Saturday, but these things happen. This is horse racing, it’s not the first time it’s happened, and it won’t be the last. If Constitution Hill rocks up at Newcastle on Saturday and wins with his head in his chest, Ascot will be well forgotten, and rightly so.

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A Plus Tard

Horse racing is so unpredictable. A Plus Tard (pictured below), the Gold Cup winner, turned up at Haydock, he was odds-on and pulled up. How many of us saw that coming?

I’m sure Henry [de Bromhead] hasn’t found anything. I met Rachael [Blackmore] at Punchestown on Sunday and she was at a loss. She said she wasn’t 100 percent happy even going down to the start. Maybe A Plus Tard just had a headache on the day. These things happen.

He’s out to 12/1 for the Gold Cup and on his performance last year I wouldn’t discourage anyone from investing at those odds. I’m sure we’ll see the real A Plus Tard over Christmas or in the new year and if he lines up at Cheltenham with a win under his belt, there’s no way he’s going to be 12/1 come March.

Last Sunday at Punchestown

State Man did what everyone expected him to do. He was actually even-money at one stage and he was backed into 4/9. He won by four lengths in the end, and if he’s to be a Champion Hurdle horse, that’s what you wanted to see. I suppose Sharjah is a decent guide to the form.

Now it’s onwards and upwards for Joe and Marie Donnelly’s horse and it will be interesting to see where Willie [Mullins] points him next.

Elsewhere on the card it was brilliant to see Robert ‘Bob’ Murphy get a great reception when he won the Grade 2 with Darrens Hope. Bob is a great character – his trademark are his cowboy boots that he wears everyday going racing – and I’m sure he’ll look forward to maybe stepping Darrens Hope up into Grade 1 company next time.

Diarmuid Moloney

Diarmuid Moloney rode his first winner on Brandy Harbour for trainer Grainne O’Connor at Limerick on Tuesday. Diarmuid was based with Paul Nicholls for a year but returned home as there were more opportunities in Ireland.

I was very impressed with him as a jockey, for a kid that just rode his first winner, he’s a name to keep an eye on over the winter.

DAQMAN Weds: Kempton NAP
DAQSTATS Weds: Kempton NAP
THE STRIKER Weds: Sunderland v Fulham (FA Cup)
THE EDGE Thurs: India v Australia 1st Test
PAT HEALY blog: The Perfect Festival!
THE WEEK AHEAD: Super Bowl week !!
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