Nicky Henderson believes Constitution Hill will have no problem handling the conditions at Sandown Park on Saturday (8th January) when attempting to provide him with a record-extending sixth success in the Unibet Tolworth Novices Hurdle.
Since landing the two-mile Grade One for the first time 30 years ago with New York Rainbow in 1992, the Seven Barrows master has captured the race a further four times with Minella Class (2011), Captain Conan (2012), Royal Boy (2014) and L’Ami Serge (2015).
The Michael Buckley-owned five year old looked a star in the making when running out an impressive 14-length winner over course and distance on his debut under Rules last month.
Although the ground is currently described as Heavy, Soft in places on the hurdle track at the Esher venue, Henderson feels the Blue Bresil gelding will be able to cope with the potentially testing conditions.
Henderson said: “Constitution Hill is in good form and the Tolworth Hurdle is the plan. He was impressive there last time and that was all you can say.
“He went through the ground there last time and I’m sure it will be Sandown soft ground on Saturday but that doesn’t seem to worry him.
“It is only his second run under Rules but we’ve got to go there to be honest with you as we are struggling to find races for them all but we are lucky enough to have a few that are in that league this season.”
Constitution Hill may have run out a stylish winner on his hurdling debut on 4th December. However, the early signs at home suggested otherwise according to Henderson.
The trainer continued: “He is a bizarre character that was showing us nothing at home but when you suddenly press a button and say go he does. But until then, you are thinking what have we got.
“I’ve not seen one at home that is as laid back as he is. If you saw him walking and trotting in the middle of the string you wouldn’t give me a shilling for him.
“The first two bits of work we gave him we dropped him in behind horses and we thought he would be tailed off then all of a sudden he pulls out and is gone.
“Nico (de Boinville) rode him in a piece of work on Friday and he was exactly the same.”
Only stablemate Jonbon is shorter than Constitution Hill in betting for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and Henderson admits he would not be worried about letting the pair take each other on in March.
He added: “I don’t need to compare them and don’t have to. If Jonbon and Constitution Hill end up in the same race at Cheltenham, then so be it.
“Last season I said it would be the novice chasers that would do the job for us and we won the Arkle with Shishkin and what was the Marsh with Chantry House and they both went on to win at Aintree.
“This season I said it looks as if our novice hurdlers would be our strong division and it looks as if it might be. They are going that way and there are a few more about.”