Matt Chapman: Constitution Hill winning the Gold Cup? Don’t rule out a future over fences…

RACING’S superstar billing Constitution Hill may try and do a ‘Dawn Run’ even if he is a runaway Champion Hurdle hero in March.

Dawn Run is in the history books as the most successful racemare of all time, having banged in the 1984 Champion Hurdle and then followed up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup two years later under a fabulous Jonjo O’Neill drive.

Could we see Constitution Hill run in the Gold Cup?Getty

The feat is unprecedented, and saw the Paddy Mullins-trained legend score over the speedy two miles and then the tiring Gold Cup distance of an extended three miles and two furlongs.

Constitution Hill’s connections are leaving all possibilities open for his future, in stark contrast to what we have witnessed on the Flat with Flightline, recognised this week as one of the best horses we have ever seen on the level but retired after just six runs.

Flightline has a rating of 140, the same as Frankel.

PURPLE RIBBON (2.47 Lingfield)

She looks nailed on for a place at 5-1 and I reckon can easily go one better for trainer Charlie Fellowes after being beaten just a neck last time out.

Of course a jumps gelding and a Flat horse worth $200,000 a pop at stud can’t be compared when it comes to the way they are campaigned. We have to be realists.

US sensation Flightline won all his six races by more than half a dozen lengths and his career ended with a belting victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.

It’s hard to know what else he could have done, other than defeat future generations. He was a world apart.


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So how lucky are we a man like Michael Buckley owns Constitution Hill? Very is the answer.

Constitution Hill, trained by Nicky Henderson, is currently between 1-3 and 1-4 to land the Unibet Champion Hurdle on March 14.

Last term’s brilliant and unbeaten Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner returned this season with a romp in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and an equally impressive dash round Kempton in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

In a nutshell, he looks in a different league to his opposition – even with the unexposed State Man and Vauban still with plenty to show us – and possibly better than anything ever seen before.

Buckley and Henderson yesterday were both at pains to point out no discussions had been had plotting a long-term future for their star.

But Buckley has mentioned a desire to think about the ‘Dawn Run’ route, and told me: “We will see how this season goes first, but I did say to Nicky at Kempton on Boxing Day that it might be fun to school the horse over fences at the end of the year.

“Just some schooling fences to see how he coped. But that’s for the summer when hopefully he’s won something.”

Henderson is up for that too, and as a great pal of Buckley’s will see it as a joint decision.

The trainer said: “The big decision will be taken in the summer and we’ll have to decide whether to switch to fences.

“The plan at the moment is to go to Cheltenham and then Aintree.

“But we wouldn’t go to Punchestown unless for some reason we had to miss Aintree – there is just not enough time between Liverpool and Ireland. But we expect to step up to two and a half miles in the Aintree Hurdle.

“Even if he won at Cheltenham and Aintree standing on his head we wouldn’t go to Ireland.

“If you remember we did all three with Sprinter Sacre after I’d promised Punchestown we would go there.

“I remember Barry Geraghty saying we had Sprinter at 100 per cent for Cheltenham, then at 85 per cent at Aintree and 70 per cent at Punchestown.

“The thing with these horses is they never have easy races even if they look to win easily.

“If you are smashing track records you have to be giving 110 per cent and is why those horses are better than all the rest.

“When those good horses win on the bridle it’s because they are giving their all. But mentally it takes a lot out of them.”

Many take the easy route in these circumstances, which in this case would mean Constitution Hill would try and defend his Champion Hurdle crown in 2024 should he be successful this time around.

But Henderson added: “It will be a joint call with Michael. But it’s not a case of just doing what’s easy.

“Remember we could have kept Altior over hurdles and he would probably have three victories in the Champion Hurdle if we had done so. But we sent him chasing.”

Let’s hope Constitution Hill has the constitution for the larger obstacles. But he’s racing’s James Bond with a licence to thrill.


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