MIKE DICKSON: Constitution Hill lights up Cheltenham with superstar showing as he eased to victory in the Champion Hurdle… while Honeysuckle bows out with an emotional farewell
- Constitution Hill once again showed his superstar qualities at Cheltenham
- An imperious victory in the Champion Hurdle signalled his stunning arrival
- While it was farewell for Honeysuckle who bowed out with an emotional win
Constitution Hill was hailed as a superstar horse with limitless potential after sweeping to an imperious victory in the Champion Hurdle here on Tuesday.
Jockey Nico de Boinville and trainer Nicky Henderson were left struggling for superlatives after he cruised home by nine lengths before easing up at the finish ahead of State Man.
‘He could do anything,’ said De Boinville. ‘He had loads left, he’s an exceptional horse, a superstar.’
‘That is only the sixth race of his life but this horse is going to extraordinary levels,’ said Henderson. ‘That would bring tears to most eyes. He is pretty unique.’
While Constitution Hill’s imperious victory signalled the arrival of a horse that promises to be a true great of the sport, another star bowed out with victory, as Honeysuckle ended her career by claiming the Mares’ Hurdle under Rachael Blackmore.
Constitution Hill again showed his superstar quality with a signalling win at the Cheltenham Festival
Nico de Boinville celebrates winning the Champion Hurdle onboard Constitution Hill (left) while Honeysuckle bows out with another famous win (right)
It was an emotional victory for the 2021 and 2022 champion hurdler, trained by Henry de Bromhead, as it came six months after his 13-year-old son Jack died in a riding accident.
‘We all wish a very special kid was here but he’ll be looking down on us,’ said Blackmore.
For Constitution Hill it was another cruise to victory that showed what a remarkable horse this is.
He has now won all of his six races — including last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle — by an aggregate of 86 lengths.
‘He has had six races now and has barely come off the bridle,’ Henderson said, ‘but it won’t last forever so let’s enjoy it while we have got it.
‘Sprinter Sacre did amazing things for us and the emotion behind him for his comeback was unbelievable. This horse has got into those echelons after six races.
‘It is an extraordinary thing to happen but he is an extraordinary horse going to extraordinary levels. We are lucky to be the custodian of him but a lot of responsibility goes with it.’
Rachael Blackmore on board Honeysuckle (left) claimed the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham
It was a truly emotional victory for Honeysuckle trainer Henry De Bromhead (arm raised)
De Boinville need not have been alarmed as he effortlessly stretched his lead in the closing stages: ‘I didn’t think we were on much going into the last but he had loads left, he’s given me a terrific spin,’ said the jockey.
‘I could feel them all coming to two out, but he’s just winged every single hurdle.
‘It’s just a matter of when you push the button. This ground was really dead, and I didn’t want to get going too soon. He’s won hard and to anyone who backed him for 10 lengths or more, I apologise! As soon as he got to the front, he pricked his ears and said, “Come on, let’s go, go and do the business”. He’s an absolute superstar.’
As for Constitution Hill’s future, De Boinville added: ‘I’m sure we will try him over a fence at some point. I guess we don’t want to pigeon-hole him just as a hurdler; he could be anything. I think he’d be good over a fence.’