RANDOX GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL NEWS: SEVEN UP FOR CONSTITUTION HILL IN GRADE ONE WILLIAM HILL AINTREE HURDLE
Thursday 13th April
Constitution Hill (2-15 Favourite) made it seven wins from as many starts under Rules and proved the step up to two and a half miles was no problem when the comfortable three-length winner of the Grade One William Hill Aintree Hurdle.
Nicky Henderson, trainer of the winner Constitution Hill: “He’s had a nice day out. The beauty of him is that you can do anything you like. Is he going to stay two and a half miles - well he’ll stay as many miles as you like and he jumps so beautifully doesn’t he.
“When you are travelling like that in a slightly slower gear over two and a half it makes it even easier for him. His jumping is so deadly accurate.
“We might well school him over a fence before we put him to bed, just to get a clue, and then we’ll know what we are talking about.”
Henderson told ITV Racing: “It couldn’t have been more straightforward. Over two and a half miles out there on his own he’s just doodling along in his own time. Nico said he felt as if he was in second gear all the way.
“His versatility is incredible. You can do anything with him. It was perfectly obvious this morning that he was going to have to make it, so you just don’t mess about. You keep it simple, but you can go at the front or go at the back.
“We’ve got a long summer to enjoy looking back on this and talk about what will happen next. We’ve got all sorts of options, but you’ve only got so many races you can run in. You could go Fighting Fifth, Christmas Hurdle, and then the International, which comes into Cheltenham Trials Day. Then you could go Champion Hurdle and come here.
“That’s one way. They might say it’s boring, but we wouldn’t find it boring.”
Michael Buckley, owner of Constitution Hill: “It’s nerve wracking to be honest. I probably shouldn’t say that but it is. That’s probably more my temperament rather than anything to do with the horse, who is spectacular."
Asked about the future he said: “I just want to enjoy this, but can I just say this for the trainer, who has just had two Grade 1 winners in a row, and each of them was winning his sixth Grade 1. Let’s enjoy that for the moment. It’s enough for one day.”
The winning jockey Nico de Boinville said: “I saw everyone hanging back and the plan was to wait and see if someone would go with me. It’s a long way to go when you’re running two and a half in front here and the head wind along the side at the cross fence is really strong and right in your face.
“It just sort of pushes you back a bit but I’ve only been duelling round and he jumps so well when he’s going his own speed. The last down the back I thought was particularly impressive and then turning for home I asked him to go. It’s a long run-in so it was just a point of keeping him up to his work.
“I didn’t feel as though I was that far clear, but I knew I had enough under me to burn everyone off in the closing stages if I had to.
“I don’t think we learned anything too much except that he’s such an easy horse to ride, you can ride him any way and he’s so relaxed doing that. Relaxed horses seem to get any sort of trip so I don’t know if we’ve learned too much. We’ll learn more when we school him over a fence. It was a good feeling to win again.
“I felt I had plenty left passing the line. I think if something came and helped me along I could have picked up again.”
When asked about the Alder Hey Aintree Bowl winner Shishkin, he added: “I thought he was back mentally at Cheltenham but then we got down to the start and he sat back on his haunches a bit. Today he definitely felt more alive and we have played around with him at home as well, we’ve been doing plenty behind the scenes just to sweeten him up.
“We’ve done various physio things and making sure all the mechanics are working and trying to get him into a good frame of mind. It’s a case of making sure his work isn’t too hard as he doesn’t show an awful lot at home.
“Even going around there you had Ahoy Senor jumping right and coming back in, so I decided to drop back and not get involved in the drama of that. I could have done and asked him to go down the back, but I asked him to drop. The trouble is he dropped too far back and I had to stoke him up again, but I was very pleased.”
Patrick Mullins, representing his trainer father Willie, said of the runner-up Sharjah: “First of all he kept running into Honeysuckle; now he’s running into Constitution Hill! He’s a super horse. He showed us he stays two and a half miles, which gives us extra options. He might look at going over fences next year, maybe. I don’t think he had an awful hard race there, so we might look at going to Punchestown as well. He enjoyed himself.”
Gordon Elliot, trainer of Zanahiyr (3rd), said: “He has run well. He was only beaten half a length for second and he was a couple of lengths closer than he was (to Constitution Hill) at Cheltenham so we are very happy. He ran very well at Cheltenham and he has ran another great race there. He galloped all the way to the line and he didn’t stop. We will mix and match trips with him but I don’t think we need to go any further than that at the moment. We will discuss it with Noel and Valerie (Moran, owners) and see if they want to stick over hurdles or go over fences with him but we are all very happy with the run.”
Aidan Coleman, rider of Epatante (4th), said: “She ran fine but what do you do when you run against Constitution Hill. It was a messy race but she has run fine. She has been a great servant and hopefully she will go to Punchestown or something like that next.”
3.30pm William Hill Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1)
1 Constitution Hill 2/15 Fav
2 Sharjah (FR) 20/1