Cheltenham Festival 2023: Can Anything Stop Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle?

Cheltenham Festival 2023: Can Anything Stop Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle?
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Constitution Hill has very quickly become the most exciting horse in jumps racing.

Last season’s stunning Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner set out on the road to 2023 Champion Hurdle glory when he bolted up in devastating fashion in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle.

He followed that up with another breathtaking win in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day, where he beat his stablemate Epatante by an even further distance that at Newcastle.

The Michael Buckley-owned five-year-old is the red-hot 4/11 favourite to dethrone reigning champion Honeysuckle in the 2023 Champion Hurdle after his two sensational wins this season.

We have already seen a handful of potential candidates to use your Cheltenham offers on, but Constitution Hill looks set to go off the shortest priced horse at the festival so many punters will be avoiding single bets and just using him for accumulator purposes.

The form of the Supreme is strong and it took a huge boost - as if it were needed - when runner-up Jonbon went on to win the Grade 1 Betway Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in April and he also won in scintillating style on both his Novice Chase wins this season.

Constitution Hill remains extremely lightly raced having only jumped hurdles in public five times, but he’s already won four Grade 1 races by wide margins and many now believe that he is the horse that can end Honeysuckle’s dominance in the division.

Even though he will have to concede the 7lb sex allowance to the outstanding mare when they eventually meet - which is unlikely to be before the 2023 Cheltenham Festival.

So, can any horse stop Constitution Hill going on to dominate the two-mile hurdle division this term? Let’s take a look at his key Champion Hurdle rivals.

State Could Be The Man For Hurdle Glory

Willie Mullins will also be harbouring Champion Hurdle hopes with Grade 1-winning novice State Man, who is a top-price 6/1 with betting apps to win the Cheltenham Festival feature in 2023.

State Man was one of the most impressive handicap winners at last season’s festival having travelled through the County Hurdle like a horse way ahead of his mark.

Although that was a world away from elite level and was on the New Course (Champion Hurdle is run on the Old Course), he at least showed that he was fully effective at Prestbury Park and his hurdling is excellent.

The Doctor Dino gelding got his season off to the perfect start when he beat his more experienced stablemate Sharjah by four lengths in the Grade 1 Morgianna Hurdle at Punchestown recently.



In terms of pure numbers, he achieved around 8-10lb more in winning the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown and although that was over a longer trip.

State Man is a smooth traveller who is probably best suited to a strongly-run stiff two miles - which is exactly what he will get in the Champion Hurdle in March. 

The issue with that Punchestown form is that runner-up First Street was then thrashed by Jonbon at Aintree and we all know what Constitution Hill did to Jonbon.

State Man is undoubtedly an exciting horse going into this season but at this stage, he’s a long way shy of what Constitution Hill has achieved.

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Can Honeysuckle Land The Hat-trick?

Honeysuckle is a 8/1 shot with betting sites and she is an obvious port of call because she has achieved so much more than Constitution Hill has at this stage. 

Beaten for the first time in 17 starts in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle, she has won an incredible 11 Grade 1 prizes - NINE more than Constitution Hill, and she was a dominant three-and-a half-length winner of the 2022 Champion Hurdle.

After that loss, many racing fans were shocked to hear that Henry De Bromhead was strongly considering going for the Mares Hurdle with Honeysuckle at Cheltenham.

It's a race she won back in 2020 but if they end up in this race, then her Champion Hurdle hat-trick bid is no more and Constitution Hill will have the race at his mercy.

The outstanding mare has an official rating of 165 so if Constitution Hill is going to topple her, he’ll need to run to a mark in the low to mid 170s given he’ll be conceding the 7lb sex allowance. 

He’s already rated 176 after just four hurdles starts so if, as expected, he improves again this season then Nicky Henderson’s stable star already looks like he might have the reigning champ covered.

Furthermore, Constitution Hill won his Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in a time over five seconds faster than Honeysuckle achieved later on the card - that’s around 15 lengths. 

Constitution Hill has been posting monster numbers and simply looks a superstar in the making.

Vauban a Very Impressive Juvenile

There are, however, dangers lurking for the Champion Hurdle favourite, and top of that list has to be 2022 Triumph Hurdle winner Vauban (12/1).

The Rich Ricci-owned four-year-old made it three Grade 1 wins on the bounce at Punchestown in April and although it is often tough for horses of that age in their first season in open company.

The strong-travelling Vauban looks a cut above the average Triumph Hurdle winner.

He’s a horse with an unusually high cruising speed and his jumping is pretty fluent in the main.

The last horse to win a Champion Hurdle after landing the previous season’s Triumph was Katchit in 2008 but that at least shows it’s possible.

If Vauban is to do the same, he needs to bridge the 14lb ratings gap between him and Constitution Hill through the season. 

It’s not impossible but it’s a big ask for all that he remains a horse with stacks of potential.

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The Rest 

Teahupoo was a shock winner of the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse when he got the better of Honeysuckle and Klassical Dream in a thrilling finish. 

His Champion Hurdle odds crashed from 66/1 into 20/1, but he needs to improve drastically on his effort in the race last year where he finished last.

2021 Champion Bumper winner Sir Gerhard (25/1), looks unlikely to be coming back to two miles having stayed on so strongly to win the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle last season.



However, the caveat to that would be ground conditions because if they were to come up testing in March then connections could be tempted to have a crack at the two-mile contest because he’s not short on speed, he’ll get a good gallop and we know he loves soft ground.

Fellow Irish challenger Pied Piper (33/1), has already won two races this season but he had nothing to beat in a Grade 2 at Down Royal and he appears to be a good way off being a Champion Hurdle contender.

The Verdict

All in all, Constitution Hill appears to have the two-mile hurdles division sewn up.

If he builds on his brilliant first season, then he’s going to take a mighty amount of stopping in March.

But the general consensus is that odds of 4/11 being offered by horse racing betting sites this far away from the festival are too short to be backing at this stage.

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