Is the Aintree Hurdle a Forgone Conclusion

While the Aintree Hurdle is traditionally a competitive fixture – 2023’s renewal isn’t expected to be due to the inclusion of exceptional prospect Constitution Hill. The six-year-old, who is coming off the back of a dominant nine-length victory in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month, is considered by many fans and pundits alike as the best hurdler since all-time great Istabraq.

His win at Prestbury Park marked the six-year-olds fifth consecutive Grade 1 triumph on the trot, acting as further evidence as to why he has established himself as Timeform’s highest-rated novice hurdler in its 74-year history (177p) – surpassing Golden Cygnet, who previously boasted the record rating of 176.

With all of that being considered, unsurprisingly, with many a horse racing betting site, Constitution Hill is a very short favorite at 1/4. While the Nicky Henderson-trained thoroughbred will prove incredibly difficult to beat, let’s look at two horses who have the best chance of causing what would arguably be the biggest upset in National Hunt racing history for decades.

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Never write off a former champion. Nine-year-old Epatante has the ultimate course and distance form, having reigned supreme in dominant fashion in the Aintree Hurdle last year. The French-bred horse would go on to beat her opposition by 14 lengths – and will need to replicate that performance if she has any shot of defeating her stablemate Constitution Hill.


Since her victory at Aintree in 2022, Epatante’s form has been somewhat inconsistent, notching up a win at Doncaster and place finishes at Kempton, Newcastle, and Punchestown – to coincide with a less-than-stellar run in which she finished second last in the Cheltenham Festival’s Mares’ Hurdle. While an eighth-place finish is not the ideal preparation, Epatante is still a multiple-time Grade 1 winner who can beat almost anyone on her day.

For those who think she will do the unthinkable and upset her stablemate, she is paying as wide as 8/1 with certain operators.

That’s if Henderson decides to enter Epatante in Merseyside, with the 72-year-old trainer stating that he could choose to forgo entering her into the Aintree Hurdle in favor of a run at Punchestown.


This Irish horse had a fantastic start to his career under trainer Gordon Elliott, reigning supreme in three juvenile races – two of which were at graded level. Since that early success with Elliott, however, Zanahiyr has largely disappointed. In his last 12 appearances, the gelding has only managed one triumph under rules, which came at Down Royal, where he bested Cask Mate by eight lengths.


Therefore, if it does so happen that Epatante runs at Leopardstown instead of in the Aintree Hurdle, that’ll mean that Zanahiyr is considered Constitution Hill’s greatest threat on the day. For those interested in placing a bet on Zanahiyr to shock the world, the six-year-old is paying 10/1.


Whether the race ends up being one-way traffic or the likes of Epatante and Zanahiyr manage to challenge Constitution Hill down the stretch – it will be a fixture worth tuning into either way.

Jess Shaver
Jess Shaver
Online Entrepreneur. Successfully running and operating multiple eCommerce ventures, in between writing about it all.

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