Ladbokes Christmas Hurdle
|Grade 1, Kempton Park 13:55
2m, Class 1
1 Constitution Hill 1/12F
2 Rubaud 15/2
3 First Street 33/1
5 ran NR: Nemean Lion Distances: 9½l, 1¼l, 2¼l
Time: 3m 52.70s (slow by 11.70s)
National Hunt sensation Constitution Hill made a triumphant return to competition, securing an effortless victory here at Kempton. This marked his second consecutive win in the race, with Nicky Henderson's charge entering as the overwhelming 1-12 favorite against just four competitors.
Constitution Hill's first race of the season unfolded seamlessly after weather-related disruptions thwarted initial plans to run in the Fighting Fifth, both at Newcastle and the rescheduled Sandown version. Despite concerns about being behind schedule, any doubts about his readiness were swiftly dispelled.
Under the guidance of jockey Nico de Boinville, Constitution Hill chased down Paul Nicholls' Rubaud on the run to the second-last hurdle. The champion hurdler executed a flawless jump, extending his lead and decisively securing a nine-and-a-half-length victory. QuinnBet promptly adjusted his Champion Hurdle odds to 1-3 from 2-5 for the March event.
Trainer Nicky Henderson expressed his admiration for Constitution Hill's impeccable jumping ability, emphasizing the horse's speed and skill in navigating the course. Henderson contemplated the decision not to pursue jumping fences, highlighting the horse's proficiency in hurdling.
Looking ahead, Henderson mentioned the possibility of an extra run in the Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham on Trials day, considering the missed opportunity at the Fighting Fifth. He emphasized the team's desire to race Constitution Hill and expressed confidence in the horse's performance come March.
Jockey Nico de Boinville conveyed his delight with Constitution Hill's performance, noting that the horse did not have an overly challenging race, setting a positive tone for the season.
Owner Michael Buckley, reflecting on the victory, described it as a special day and expressed relief at the successful outcome. He acknowledged the pressure associated with managing a horse of such caliber but expressed satisfaction with Constitution Hill's performance in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle.
Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1)
£130,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus, 2m, Class 1
POS. DIST HORSE AGE WGT TRAINER JOCKEY SP
1 Constitution Hill 6 11-10 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville 1/12F
2 9½ Rubaud 5 11-10 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 15/2
3 1¼ First Street 6 11-10 Nicky Henderson Sam Twiston-Davies 33/1
4 2¼ Black Poppy 7 11-10 Kerry Lee Brendan Powell 50/1
5 1¼ Sceau Royal 11 11-10 Alan King Tom Bellamy 50/1
NR 4 Nemean Lion 6 11-10 Kerry Lee NON RUNNER