Morrison looks at Ascot options for Not So Sleepy

Not So Sleepy’s connections are keen to divert another clash with exciting prospect Constitution Hill in the Christmas Hurdle and could instead head for the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.

Attempting to land the Fighting Fifth Hurdle for the second consecutive year after warming up last year, Not So Sleepy was third to Nicky Henderson’s Champion Hurdle favourite, some 14½ lengths back.

Trainer Hughie Morrison was pleased with the 10-year-old’s showing, although he questioned the wisdom of taking the impressive winner back.

“I think he ran almost everything and we know when the pitch is almost good they can get away from it,” Morrison said.

“It happened in the Champion Hurdle and it happens when it’s good to soft, borderline sticky. He doesn’t have that kick, but he stayed good.

“If Constitution Hill hadn’t been there, we would have run the race differently and come very close. I just needed the soil to be a little softer.

“This time we were happy to take the lead, as if he (Constitution Hill) was as good as everyone said he was going to be – which he was – we didn’t want to take him in front and give the horse It was very hard.”

Epatante shared the laurels with Not So Sleepy in last year’s race, however she was beaten 12 lengths by her stablemate this time.

Morrison believes Constitution Hill, who was making a late season bow, unraced since beating Jonbon in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, is the real deal.

He added: “He looked very impressive. It was a pretty fast time, maybe only two or three seconds faster than last year on soft ground. Visually it was very impressive. He did the same at Cheltenham.

“In a big field, against other horses that will take him early, will he be? That’s the only “if” at this point. He looked very fit on Saturday.”

With Henderson’s star running in the Kempton Christmas race on Boxing Day, the East Ilsley handler will head elsewhere with Not So Sleepy, with a trip to Ascot on December 17 a potential destination.

“I think the Christmas hurdle is probably out of the question,” he added. “Who will take over Constitution Hill?

“The only reason to take it is to get the second or third place prize. If you have a really good horse and you want to win a race, you don’t take it, do you?

“Not So Sleepy didn’t run very well there last year for some reason. It does not like sticky and soft soil. We might be looking a bit outside the box with him so he has an entry for the Long Walk Hurdle.

“Both the jockey (Jonathan Burke) and I came to this vision independently. We might change our minds, but we’ll think about it for the next three weeks.

“That might tell us a lot. That will mean she only has a month between races and I tend to like them to have a little longer between races.

“We’ll also put him in the Betfair Hurdle (at Newbury in February) and if we’re happy with him we’ll see. The owners are eager to try.”

Not So Sleepy is one of nine entries for the Howden Long Walk, with the Henderson-trained Champion and Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park leading the way after being separated by just a neck in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last week.

Gary Moore has both Goshen and Botox Has, with Dashel Drasher, Wholestone, Miranda and possible Irish rival Queens Brook rounding out the entries.

Morrison also entered Not So Sleepy for the Betfair Exchange Trophy, the handicap highlight on the same Ascot card.

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