Nicky Henderson expects Constitution Hill and Jonbon to meet in Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in Cheltenham and is resisting any urge to integrate one of her two stars into the Champion Hurdle camp.
In one of the most exciting performances of the season, Constitution Hill proved to be a massive Grade One winner Tolworth Hurdle in Sandown on Saturday, shortening the favorite for Supreme, the Festival’s opener in March, to 2/1.
The win saw Michael Buckley-owned five-year-old replace stablemate Jonbon – an equally impressive Kennel Gate winner at Ascot last month – on top of the bets, with JP McManus’ horse available at 9/4 ( Sky Bet).
With the couple representing separate owners, Henderson expects a mouthwatering confrontation in Cheltenham, not to mention splitting their chances between Supreme and Ballymore for two and a half stages.
Speaking to Racing Debate, Henderson said Sky Sport Racing: “Fortunately, I’m the only person who doesn’t have to divide them. I think they have to face each other.
“Jonbon is a very good horse. Don’t underestimate him.
“You’d be lucky to have one, but to have two like this at once. We just have to focus on making sure they get there.
“I think neither of us necessarily want to go up half a mile, although I’m sure they both would.”
Henderson revealed that Constitution Hill is likely to participate in a canter at the racecourse before performing in Cheltenham, while Jonbon has warm-up options in Haydock or Sandown.
“We are thinking of Rossington Main in Haydock or perhaps Contenders Hurdle in Sandown as a possibility for Jonbon.” Henderson said.
“I’d like to give him another run. He’s getting better with the races and becoming more relaxed throughout the episode: the trip and the preliminaries.
“With Constitution Hill, I don’t necessarily see what he will gain from doing it again.
“Wherever you go, I feel he will only find a three or four horse race. Learning to run behind a large field would be constructive, but I don’t think you will find one before you get there in March.
“It is more than likely that he will gallop at the racecourse somewhere and we might as well think about going left handed.”
The way Constitution Hill’s success in Sandown suggests it might be worth trying the Champion Hurdle, for which he would need to be supplemented by Buckley.
Henderson, however, remains loyal to his 2020 Champion Hurdle winner Epatante, who achieved the Grade One Christmas Hurdle in Kempton on Boxing Day.
Asked if he would consider running Constitution Hill against Hepatante, Henderson said, “There’s nothing to lose except a few pounds of Michael. [Buckley, Constitution Hill’s owner] earnings yesterday. If you put it in, why don’t you put Jonbon on?
“[Epatante] he is in very good shape and was very good at Kempton. She returned to her A-game and won a Champion Hurdle. “