May 29, 2023

Cheltenham Festival Review: Constitution Hill can improve over fences according to Off The Fence’s Barry Geraghty | Racing News


Barry Geraghty believes his beloved Constitution Hill could yet improve further over fences and says Nicky Henderson would definitely be up for the challenge if he feels it suits the Champion Hurdle star.

Constitution Hill had barely crossed the line at Cheltenham this year before the inevitable line of questioning began: What next for racing’s most exciting horses? Will he go chasing? Is the Gold Cup the ambition?

Whatever the plans for next season, there is still business left to complete over hurdles at Aintree, after which the picture may become clearer still.

Speaking on the Off The Fence Cheltenham Review show, Geraghty, who bought Constitution Hill as a foal for only £16,500 and raised him until the age of three, said of his Champion Hurdle romp: “It was brilliant.

“He quickened like mad and hit the line really strong, whereas State Man looked happy just to get there.

“It sounds like he’s going to Aintree next over two-and-a-half miles which shouldn’t be a problem for him.

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Matt Chapman caught up with Nico de Boinville at Plumpton with the jockey revealing how close he came to a final-flight disaster on Constitution Hill in last week’s Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham

“There’s a good chance he’ll go jumping fences next season. Michael [Buckley, owner] is definitely up for the challenge and wants to see how far this horse can take him.

“Nicky [Henderson, trainer] has done this before with Sprinter Sacre and Altior so I wouldn’t say he’s conservative. He’ll always do what he feels is right for the horse.

“There’s still potential for improvement from him over a fence because he jumps so well. Nicky would definitely be up for it once he knows he has the horse for the job.”

Geraghty was also impressed with Honeysuckle’s Mares’ Hurdle success and equally delighted to see Henry de Bromhead’s star receive an outpouring of adoration from the Festival crowd as she bowed out in style.

“Henry [de Bromhead, trainer] did brilliantly to get her back to the level she had been in the past and Rachael [Blackmore, jockey] gave her a brilliant ride,” Geraghty said. “It was a good, solid performance and proved it was the right race to go for.

“The atmosphere and reception she got coming back into the winner’s enclosure was amazing – the place erupted. The crowd gave her the respect and the applause she deserves. A brilliant way for her to sign off.

“I’m not sure she ever got the respect she deserved, going 16 unbeaten and winning at four Festivals is very difficult. As mares go, she’s in the top five in history.”

Honeysuckle and Love Envoi battle it out in the Mares' Hurdle
Honeysuckle and Love Envoi battle it out in the Mares’ Hurdle

Fellow Off The Fence panellist Tony Keenan feels it was Honeysuckle’s longevity which truly stood her apart from her rivals.

“She was a good, if not great, champion hurdler but there’s more to it than just ratings,” Keenan said. “She had a massive popularity and would be putting thousands through the gates. There aren’t many other horses who can do that.

“She’s always run in good races and her longevity is impressive.”

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