One of the stars of the 2022/23 National Hunt season has been Constitution Hill. The unbeaten hurdler won all three of his assignments in the campaign, with the pick of his victories coming at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival in the Champion Hurdle.
His trainer Nicky Henderson has revealed that he has been schooling over fences recently, which opens the door for a switch to chasing next season. A decision is unlikely to be made until the summer, however, if he impresses over bigger obstacles, he may return in the 2023/24 campaign as a novice chaser.
Arkle And Gold Cup on The Table
Simply sensational - Constitution Hill on his way to Champion Hurdle glory pic.twitter.com/FiC6WUjNgb— PA Racing (@PAracing) March 14, 2023
The six-year-old is already being compared with some of the best jump horses of all time. For him to match some of their achievements, he will need to have success in more Cheltenham Festival races.
As a novice chaser, the natural route next year would be the Arkle Trophy Chase. He would most likely be one of the horse racing tips for that race as it comes over 2m, the distance he has shone over as a hurdler. Henderson’s runner already tops the betting at +175 for the day one contest at Cheltenham.
The other option next season as a chaser would be to step up in distance and feature in the Blue Riband event in the sport, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. That would be an ambitious route, but his owner Michael Buckley has refused to rule it out.
The last horse to win the Champion Hurdle and then the Cheltenham Gold Cup was Dawn Run. She was successful in the premier hurdles contest in 1984, and two years later, she won the Festival feature.
Temptation To Stay Over Hurdles
Should Constitution Hill remain over hurdles, there will still be lots of targets for him to achieve. If he defends his crown in the Champion Hurdle in 2024, he will join an elite club of horses who have won that race more than once.
The record for the most wins in the Champion Hurdle is currently held by five different horses who have been successful on three occasions. Given his age, Constitution Hill would be expected to join those winners should he continue as a hurdler.
Another option as a hurdler would be to step up in distance and attempt to complete the Champion Hurdle and Stayers’ Hurdle double. That route seems unlikely as the Champion Hurdle is a more prestigious race at the Festival.
One More Outing Over Hurdles Likely
Before a decision is made on his future, Constitution Hill could have one more outing this season at Aintree or Punchestown. He has an entry in the Aintree Hurdle at the Grand National meeting. Should he line up in that race, he would be a warm favorite to bring up his record to seven wins from seven starts under rules.
Honeysuckle makes it 16 wins in a row! 👑 pic.twitter.com/KMQjmiigGa— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) April 29, 2022
Constitution Hill featured in Ireland once in a point-to-point before moving to Henderson’s yard. If he returns there this season, it will be in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle. Honeysuckle completed the double in the Cheltenham and Punchestown races in 2021 and 2022.
Whatever the future is for Constitution Hill, it is likely to be an exciting one for his connections, as he is regarded as a generational talent.
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