Fighting Fifth Hurdle: Constitution Hill produces ‘freak’ victory at Newcastle to kickstart Champion Hurdle dream

Constitution Hill proved himself to be ‘freakishly’ good as he sauntered to Grade One glory in the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.

The five-year-old is unbeaten under rules and was a 1/4 chance going into the Grade One, odds that did not look unfounded as he made all of the running and jumped with complete fluency.

Partnered by Nico de Boinville, he pulled clear of stablemate and two-time winner Epatante, crossing the line at a canter to win by 12 lengths with any amount in hand.

Paddy Power cut Constitution Hill from evens to 8/11 favourite for the Champion Hurdle, with Coral going 4/7 from 5/4 for the Cheltenham highlight.

Speaking from Newbury, trainer Nicky Henderson told RacingTV: “He’s a freak. I was worried it was going to be a silly tactical race so I told Nico to just go and have fun.

“The way he quickened up, even I was impressed.”

Constitution Hill is now as short as 8/11 for the Champion Hurdle in March

A jubilant De Boinville told Sky Sports Racing: “That was very straightforward, he’s a joy to ride and so slick over his hurdles now. He’s got it all. He’d be the slickest I’ve ridden over a hurdle.

“It’s amazing to see so many people here, he’s beginning to get a real following. My celebration was to salute the fact everybody came to see him. It’s what the game needs.

“We were unsure about Not So Sleepy and didn’t want a repeat of two years ago, so it was just a case of getting the job done and keeping it simple.

Epatante impressed with her slick jumping as she won the 2021 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton
Two-time Fighting Fifth winner Epatante could only watch as Constitution Hill cleared away

“He’s an ultimate professional.

“The scary thing is, he would jump a fence if you asked him. He’s got the scope to do that. For now, we’re concentrating on this year.”

‘Ireland trip can wait’

Owner Michael Buckley told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s amazing. He’s so bold, slick, brave and relaxed all at the same time – it’s an extraordinary combination.

“He’s obviously very secure in himself about what he’s trying to do. I guess it’s just his talent.

“They were quite close to him turning for home and then he just let out a bit of rein and off he goes. The horse seems to find it all really easy.

“I think he’s realised, while he was out in field during the summer, that he’s a star.”

Asked about what is next for his star, Buckley added: “We won’t go to Ireland before Cheltenham unless something really bizarre happens.

“I haven’t spoken to Nicky but the obvious thing is to go to Kempton on Boxing Day now and then maybe come back north to Haydock.”

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