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Henderson could split Constitution Hill and Jonbon at Cheltenham

By Jon Vine
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12 Jan 2022
  • We bring you key quotes from Nicky Henderson, who spoke to Nick Luck on Sunday
  • Henderson trains the top two in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle betting, Jonbon and Constitution Hill
  • The former Champion Trainer has teased the prospect of splitting up his top novices at the Cheltenham Festival
nicky henderson
Nicky Henderson poses at Ascot Racecourse on December 17. (Getty)
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Nicky Henderson is no novice when it comes to handling exciting first-season hurdlers, and it seems the former Champion Trainer has two potential superstars on his books.

Constitution Hill2022 Supreme Novices' HurdleGET 9/4 HERE
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Constitution Hill wowed viewers when winning on debut at Sandown and leapt to the head of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle betting after sprinting clear to win the Tolworth Hurdle at the weekend. 

The Michael Buckley-owned five-year-old leapfrogged stablemate Jonbon - full brother to 2015 Supreme winner, Douvan - in the Cheltenham betting. Jonbon made a winning bumper debut for Henderson and JP McManus last season and has done nothing wrong over hurdles this term, following a routine maiden win at Newbury with a sparkling victory in the Kennel Gate at Ascot.

Henderson has never been afraid to run his best novice hurdlers against one another in the Supreme. Flown got the better of favourite New York Rainbow - also owned by Buckley - to win the 1992 Supreme. When Altior won the Supreme in 2016, he beat future two-time Champion Hurdler, Buveur D'Air into third. Another future Grade One winner, Chantry House was third in the 2020 Supreme which was, of course, won by the all-conquering Shishkin.

The bookmakers clearly think Constitution Hill and Jonbon will clash in the opener on day one of the Cheltenham Festival. Paddy Power makes Constitution Hill their 9/4 favourite, ahead of Jonbon at 3/1. Yet, when Nicky Henderson spoke to Nick Luck via video link on Sunday evening, he teased the possibility that the two could be separated at National Hunt racing's showpiece event.

constitution hill
Nico de Boinville riding Constitution Hill clear the last to win The Unibet Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown. (Getty)

“They both look like two milers. The only way you could force the issue is to come to the conclusion that one of them would get another half-mile." Henderson said.

“It is interesting because a few years ago we had Simonsig, who was very strong. He looked like a two miler, but we actually ran him in the two-and-a-half, which he won very easily."

"I suppose you would enter both horses in both novice hurdles. I'd need to speak to JP (McManus) and Michael (Buckley) and see if they're both happy to do that. Both horses look as good as we've got anyway.”

Paddy Power have Constitution Hill priced up at 8/1 for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, with Jonbon a mere 20/1 shot, so they clearly feel that if one of the two were to step up in trip, it would be Saturday's Tolworth Hurdle winner. Henderson spoke in length about Constitution Hill on Sunday, praising his youngster's attitude, both on and off the track.

“He's (Constitution Hill) extraordinary because in all his slow paces, they're not slow - they're even slower than slow!"

“But if you put him in behind a couple of horses, you don't know that you're sitting on anything until you pull him out and say 'come on' and it is like changing gear – he just takes off."

"He does it very quickly and very honestly. He loves schooling and loves work and has an extraordinary attitude to life."

jonbon
Aidan Coleman riding Jonbon (green) clear the last to win The Howden Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle at Ascot. (Getty)
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