Nicky Henderson is sending a very strong team to the Cheltenham Festival next month. Possibly not in numbers, but certainly in terms of quality and strength. The master of Seven Barrows has a hugely strong hand in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with the favourite and third favourite in the betting currently.
Henderson also has the favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase in what could be the next Sprinter Sacre, Shishkin. Other live contenders include Champ in the Stayers’ Hurdle, Chantry House in the Gold Cup, Epatante in the Champion Hurdle and Mister Fisher who will probably run in the Ryanair Chase.
Upon speaking to the Racing Post, Henderson’s quote for Constitution Hill certainly hit a chord with me the most. It is clear as day that he really fancies this beast for the Supreme.
Henderson said with regard to Constitution Hill: “He’s been a revelation. Barry Geraghty and Warren Ewing, whom he was with in Ireland, were always telling me about him, and they were right. I’ve bought a few off Barry, from Bobs Worth to Brain Power to this fella to some less salubrious characters, but they’ve done us well and this is the most extraordinary horse. When he arrived I thought he was the most bizarre animal I’d ever come across and in our early-season prep you wouldn’t have given sixpence for him; he was so laid-back.
“He couldn’t lay up walking and if you put him at the front he held the whole string up. It was the same trotting and, if he was at the back, the ones at the front caught him up in no time. It was woeful and I rang Barry and said, ‘What in the world is this? He’s horizontal, I can’t wake him up’. Barry had sent me a picture of his daughter Orla, who was nine at the time, riding him at home and he was that sort of horse, but things changed dramatically when we worked him.
“He was sitting behind horses in his first bit of work and suddenly disappeared over the horizon. ‘Good Lord,’ I thought, even if they weren’t stars of the show he was with. We kept doing this and it kept getting more and more amazing. I didn’t expect him to be as good as he was at Sandown first time and you wouldn’t normally go to the Tolworth after one run, but it made no difference.
“I never had any intention of running him again because there’s nothing to teach him. He settles, goes to sleep, jumps and then you press a button and he goes. He’s exactly what every trainer wants, a horse who eats, sleeps, doesn’t cause chaos and then you press a button, and push-button horses are lovely. I can’t see any issue with a sounder surface, but the Supreme will be on good to soft or softer.”
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