|Tuesday 14th February 2023
Can Constitution Hill Be Beaten?
Every now and then, there’s a generational talent in horse racing that transcends the sport. On the National Hunt racing scene, that is Constitution Hill – who has been exceptional since debuting in April of 2021.
The six-year-old has been particularly impressive in his Grade 1 outings to date, winning four on the trot by a combined margin of 63 lengths to establish himself as Timeform’s highest-rated novice hurdler in its 74-year history (177p) – surpassing Golden Cygnet who previously boasted the record rating of 176. As a result of his dominance, Constitution Hill currently sits as the red-hot favourite to reign supreme in the Cheltenham Festival’s Champion Hurdle at 1/3.
Most racing experts are of the belief that the Nicky Henderson-trained thoroughbred is unbeatable on his day – with him widely considered the best hurdler since three-time Champion Hurdle winner Istabraq. That’s not to say there isn’t a strong field of entries in the Champion Hurdle in 2023, with multiple quality horses entering the feature race on day one of the Festival.
With that in mind, read on as we take a look at the two horses who, no matter how slim, have the best opportunity to cause what would be the upset of all upsets at Cheltenham next month.
The likeliest candidate to shock the racing world is State Man, who has won his last six races dating back to February last year. His trainer Willie Mullins will take plenty of confidence from his six-year-old’s most recent outing at the Dublin Racing Festival, with State Man fending off multiple-time Champion Hurdle victor Honeysuckle up the straight to finish first past the post by just shy of five lengths.
Given his performances over the past 12 months, in any other year, State Man would likely be the favourite heading into the Grade 1 Cheltenham affair. However, up against a horse of Constitution Hill’s calibre – anything less than a perfect run will not be enough.
For those following the cheltenham racing tips, State Man currently sits as the second favourite in the Champion Hurdle at the time of writing, garnering a price of 3/1.
The third favourite in the Champion Hurdle is another Mullins horse – Vauban. Although this five-year-old has been inconsistent at times throughout his career, he has secured some notable victories including a three-race Grade 1 winning streak last year at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown.
Arguably his most impressive outing of the three was in the Triumph Hurdle, in which he overcame quality opposition in Fil Dor, Pied Piper and Il Etatit Temps to take home the spoils in the two-mile and one-furlong fixture by two-and-a-half-lengths.
Although his most recent run saw him finish third behind stablemate State Man and Honeysuckle at the Dublin Racing Festival – Mullins noted that he was pleased with Vauban’s performance. While his trainer may have been happy with his thoroughbred’s showing, the gelding will have plenty to do if he is to win his second Grade 1 Cheltenham Festival race – in which he is at 9/1 to do so.