Henderson confirms Constitution Hill will remain over hurdles
Six-time champion trainer Nicky Henderson has confirmed that Seven Barrows superstar Constitution Hill will remain over hurdles this season.
Lambourn handler Henderson and owner Michael Buckley had been toying with sending the six-year-old chasing over fences, with Buckley in particular said to be harbouring ambitions of emulating the great Dawn Run and adding a Gold Cup to his Champion Hurdle crown.
However, Henderson confirmed on Tuesday that Constitution Hill will stay over hurdles, where he is unbeaten in seven starts, for this season at least.
That means he’ll follow a similar course to last season, when he swept all before him to win four Grade 1 races, including a majestic performance to win the Champion Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival by nine lengths.
Constitution Hill looks set to defend titles at Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle towards the end of November and Kempton’s famous Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day before going for a tilt at a second consecutive Champion Hurdle, a race Henderson has won nine times.
Speaking to PA Racing, Henderson explained his decision. He said: “I don’t think it was the hardest decision I’ve ever made.
“He would jump fences with his eyes shut, if he wanted to, but the basis of the decision is that we had to be 100 per cent sure that he would stay three-and-a-quarter miles (in the Gold Cup.”
“I dare say there will be plenty of people saying this is unimaginative, but there was no doubt in Nico’s (De Boinville, jockey) mind, stamina was likely to be a major issue and the only point in doing it was if we felt he could become a Gold Cup horse.”