Cheltenham Festival 2023: Can Anything Stop Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle?
There is a new sheriff in town. His name is Constitution Hill and he is very possibly the best National Hunt horse of his generation – he might just be the most talented horse any of us have ever seen.
Of course, he has a long way to go if he’s to achieve that sort of status, but the indicators are overwhelming at this stage of his career.
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 2023 Champion Hurdle is his next big test but this is a horse that has the potential to go on and achieve greatness over fences too.
Let us not forget, he once won a Point at Tipperary in the spring of 2021 and most horses with that sort of background show their best form over the bigger obstacles. In Constitution Hill’s case, that’s quite a scary thought.
We are looking at a horse that is set to go off the shortest-priced Champion Hurdle favourite with horse racing betting sites this century, and one that most consider to be unbeatable. So, it that the case?
The Monster That Is Constitution Hill
Constitution Hill is being campaigned like a good horse - we’ve seen him just twice since last season’s stunning performance in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Neither the Fighting Fifth or the Christmas Hurdle were deep Grade 1’s and he faced only four rivals in both, but he has despatched Epatante with complete disdain on both occasions despite conceding 7lb to his stablemate.
Epatante is probably not at the peak of her powers nowadays but the six-time Grade 1 winner and former Champion Hurdler has since gone on to rout Grade 2 opposition at Doncaster and she will be a big player in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham - she’s no mug.
However, she couldn’t lay a glove on Constitution Hill who put 17 lengths between himself and the runner-up in the Christmas Hurdle, where his 56.06sec final half-mile time was easily the fastest on the card.
The biggest worry for Constitution Hill’s Champion Hurdle rivals, though, is that he’s doing this without having to be asked for maximum effort.
There is no knowing where the ceiling is with this horse because no rival has been able to get him out of his comfort zone.
He’s a horse that has proved he can win races in a variety of ways, so Nico de Boinville won’t hesitate to go on and make his own running should none of his rivals want to make the running.
So, is there a horse in the Champion Hurdle market that can make a race of it?
Realistic Champion Hurdle Rivals Thin On The Ground
Champion Hurdle betting lists are a fairly accurate reflection on how the two-mile hurdling division looks right now.
With Honeysuckle now out of the picture, State Man is the only other horse trading at single-figure Cheltenham odds for the Grade 1 showpiece and he really does look the standout rival.
In any ordinary year, the improving State Man would be a warm Champion Hurdle favourite after running away with the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown – his third Grade 1 success of the season.
State Man is now the best two-mile hurdler in Ireland and he has the profile of a horse that is capable of better come March.
The problem is, he’ll need to because he has yet to post a performance warranting a 170+ Racing Post Rating, unlike Constitution Hill, who has smashed that barrier on each of his last three runs, two of which without even being asked for maximum effort.
State Man has also not achieved anything special on the clock, indeed he was allowed the run of the race at Leopardstown last time where he set just modest early fractions.
For all that he looks a solid Champion Hurdle contender, this is no ordinary year and he will need to raise his game significantly if he’s to trouble the outstanding market leader.
Vauban, who is a 10/1 shot with betting apps, was beaten just over 5 lengths in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
He is only a five-year-old and likely still has his best years ahead, but he’s been beaten twice this season now and his jumping isn’t yet at the standard of a top-class two-miler.
If he can cut out the mistakes, it’s by no means impossible that he can get a good deal closer to State Man but it’s very difficult seeing him getting anywhere near Constitution Hill, who is simply operating on a different level.
Champion Hurdle Verdict
There is an old saying in racing: ‘Never be afraid of one horse.’ Ordinarily, this would be true but any horse trying to win the 2023 Champion Hurdle must bring down quite possible the best horse of our lifetime.
According to betting sites, Constitution Hill is as close to being unbeatable as it gets, and the reality is that his rivals probably need him to have an accident if they are to come out on top.
An on-song Constitution Hill will simply outclass his Champion Hurdle rivals and, if connections decide to stay over the smaller obstacles, he will probably dominate the division for years to come.
He should be the cornerstone of any Cheltenham Festival multiple.
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