Constitution Hill produced a memorable performance to win the Champion Hurdle while Honeysuckle was another brilliant victor at the Cheltenham Festival.
Unbeaten 4-11 favourite Constitution Hill, ridden by Nico de Boinville for trainer Nicky Henderson, triumphed by nine lengths from runner-up State Man.
“That is only the sixth race of his life but this horse is going to extraordinary levels.” said Henderson.
Honeysuckle won the Mares’ Hurdle under Rachael Blackmore.
The 2021 and 2022 champion hurdler, trained by Henry de Bromhead, got the better of Love Envoi, with Queens Brook in third.
It was a poignant and emotional victory in what was billed as the mare’s last run, six months after the trainer’s 13-year-old son Jack had died in a riding accident.
“We all wish a very special kid was here but he’ll be looking down on us,” said Blackmore.
Constitution Hill is ‘a superstar’
In the Champion Hurdle, Constitution Hill always travelled prominently, cruised into the lead and powered up the hill in impressive style.
“That would bring tears to most eyes. He is pretty unique,” said Henderson.
The six-year-old had won his previous five races, including last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, by an aggregate of 77 lengths, leading to suggestions he could be developing into one of the greats.
And he lived up to the hype with a foot-perfect display on the biggest stage.
“He had loads left, he’s an exceptional horse, a superstar,” said De Boinville.
Round-up of other races
The meeting began on soft ground with the traditional Cheltenham roar from a 70,000 crowd which greets the start of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
And the noise ramped up even further as 9-2 chance Marine Nationale led home an Irish clean sweep from favourite Facile Vega and Diverge. The first eight home were trained in Ireland.
Jockey Michael O’Sullivan was winning on only his second Festival ride for trainer and owner Barry Connell.
El Fabiolo brought trainer Willie Mullins his 89th career victory at the meeting when landing the Arkle Chase from Jonbon.
The winner’s stablemate and long-time leader Dysart Dynamo suffered a bad late fall but to cheers from the crowd, he eventually got to his feet and was led away.
Corach Rambler took the Ultima Handicap Chase for the second year running for Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell.
Derek Fox prevailed on the 6-1 joint favourite by a neck from Fastorslow and the winner now looks set for next month’s Grand National at Aintree.
Source – BBC Sport