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"That's the logical plan" - Constitution Hill to remain over hurdles in 2023/24

jon-vine
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Last updated: 19 Sep 2023
jon-vine
Jon Vine 19 Sep 2023
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  • Key quotes from top trainer Nicky Henderson
  • Constitution Hill will remain over hurdles for the 2023/24 season
  • The defending champion is now 1/2 to win at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival
Constitution Hill
Nico de Boinville riding Constitution Hill (white) win The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy during day one of the Cheltenham Festival 2023 at Cheltenham. (Getty)

Constitution Hill will remain over hurdles and target a second Champion Hurdle in 2023/24, Nicky Henderson has confirmed.

Henderson and owner, Michael Buckley sent ripples of excitement through the racing world in the spring, when they said that Constitution Hill could be sent novice chasing next season. Buckley's dream is to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and few would argue that Constitution Hill has the raw ability to win a race of that stature.

Nicky's plans to school his stable star over fences before his summer holiday were shelved due to fast ground. Last week, Henderson claimed that the team was still yet to decide which path to go down. Today, the press finally got their answer.

"He will stay over hurdles." Nicky Henderson told the Racing Post on Tuesday. 

"It's not really about him schooling but our biggest decision was making up in our own minds whether he would stay three and a quarter miles and I know Nico felt pretty strongly that he wouldn't.

"You can look at it that if he can go around breaking track records over two miles over hurdles like he can, how in the world are you going to stay three and a quarter? And what's the point in switching to fences to run over two miles? There's nothing to be achieved, there's equal status and prestige in the Champion Hurdle as there is in the Champion Chase. The Gold Cup was the attraction."

Constitution Hill was immediately cut into 1/2 favouritism to the 2024 Champion Hurdle on the back of Tuesday's bulletin. Henderson went on to tell the press that he would follow an identical path to the Festival as last year, with an appearance on Cheltenham Trials Day possibly being added into the mix.

"He's had a good summer - almost too good - but we've plenty of time to get him ready." Henderson continued.

"There are four Grade 1s he can run in Britain over hurdles all being well and the plan will be the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle on December 2, which gives you a shorter window to the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day, but that's the route."

"That's the logical plan and there's no point deviating from it; it's what the Pattern says, but you need a good following wind with you and for everything to go to plan, which it has so far. He helps himself in that regard because of his temperament and I don't think we've ever missed a day with him."

"They've now moved Cheltenham's International Hurdle to the end of January, so that comes into it as well. It's a Grade 2, but you could go there, then to the festival for the Champion Hurdle, and then Aintree or Punchestown."

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