Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
Top horse racing tips and the latest news.
CONSTITUTION Hill delighted connections with a scintillating workout at Kempton Park and remains hot-favourite for the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 14.
Constitution Hill was the star name of the nine horses taken for an awayday to Kempton Park by trainer Nicky Henderson who is targeting a remarkable ninth win in the Champion Hurdle, a race he last won with Epatante in 2020.
A wide margin winner of all of his five starts under rules, Constitution Hill proved far superior to his workmates at Kempton on Tuesday morning, the workout delighting his rider and regular big-race jockey Nico de Boinville.
“I was very happy,” de Boinville said. “We’ve been gearing up to this and it’s a nice hurdle to get over. It’s a nice awayday to sharpen him up mentally and physically and they have a nice time; everything goes round hard on the bridle as much as possible.
“That was the plan today and it’s difficult because you almost need a really good Flat horse to work with him. He’s very relaxed and sensible, so won’t do too much. The difference with Sprinter Sacre (who also worked at Kempton on Tuesday) was having Simonsig to work with, so you had a horse of a certain level to go with him, while Brain Power was a very good work horse too, but we haven’t got that for Constitution Hill, although that speaks more about him, and you don’t want to ruin the Cheltenham preparation of anything else.”
The betting suggests that Constitution Hill’s main rival in the Champion Hurdle is the Willie Mullins-trained State Man.
“I’ve been impressed with him [State Man],” de Boinville said. “I thought I Like To Move It was very good in the Kingwell and Nigel Twiston-Davies keeps telling me he’s going to serve it up to us, but Constitution Hill would be my best chance at the festival. Sprinter and Altior were chasers and he’s my first top-class Champion Hurdle horse and he’s the ultimate professional. He’s obviously got a massive engine and so many good horses have quirks, but he doesn’t seem to have any.”
Nicky Henderson was pleased with Constitution Hill’s workout. He said: “He loves doing this and enjoys it. He’s fit and will have another bit of work at home, but it’s quite difficult without the grass at the moment, so Barney [Clifford, clerk of the course] lets us come and do this and I love doing it too; all the horses have had a nice time.”
Owner Michael Buckley was also present. “I’m happy to see the horse looks cheerful and Nico and Nicky are happy,” he said. “You pray they just get there in good shape and he looked in good shape today.”
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