‘He eats, sleeps, works and goes back to bed’: meet the ‘laid-back’ racehorse set to light up Cheltenham

  • Horse & Hound is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy. Learn more
  • One of the most hotly anticipated runners at next week’s Cheltenham Festival is Constitution Hill. The six-year-old gelding, who is trained by Nicky Henderson and owned by Michael Buckley, is unbeaten in all of his five starts over hurdles to-date. He will start as odds-on favourite to take the prestigious Champion Hurdle title next Tuesday (14 March).

    “We have been lucky enough to train a lot of nice horses and when they come along, you find yourself being the minder of a piece of public property,” says Nicky. “Sprinter Sacre almost certainly was, Altior almost certainly was – when they come along and are like that, they are no longer just yours. We just look after them and we really want everybody to enjoy them.”

    Since making a triumphant debut at Sandown Park in December 2021, Constitution Hill has gone on to win four Grade Ones, including at the Cheltenham Festival 12 months ago when defeating his stablemate Jonbon by 22 lengths in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

    Although he comes alive on the racecourse, Constitution Hill is a completely different character behind the scenes at Nicky’s Lambourn Seven Barrows yard.

    “This is why he is such a good horse as his whole demeanour is so laid back. Nothing bothers him and nothing gets him very excited,” explains Nicky.

    “You wouldn’t pick him out in a crowd, whereas Sprinter and Altior you definitely would as they would tell you who they were. He is a good looking horse, but Sprinter was the most beautiful horse you would see and he knew it. He went everywhere with that swagger.

    “Constitution Hill doesn’t do that. He eats, he sleeps, he gets up and does what work you ask him to, and he goes back to bed. It is all very straightforward.”

    Former top National Hunt trainer Henrietta Knight knows exactly what it is like to have a superstar in your yard. She trained the wonderful Best Mate to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times between 2002 and 2004 and she says that Constitution Hill is a “crown jewel”.

    “I think racing and the country like to have a horse they can associate with and [Constitution Hill] is that horse,” says Henrietta. “I think he is the horse that will capture the imagination of the people rather like Best Mate did. He was the people’s horse and I think that is what Constitution Hill is becoming.

    “He is on everybody’s lips and he is the first horse that is mentioned when it comes to Cheltenham. He has not run many times, but what he has done has been spectacular. At the moment the sky seems to be the limit. I think it is the ease with which he has been winning his races that makes him stand out.

    “From the days of having Best Mate, I know it is very exciting as you are sitting on a crown jewel. Nicky is a top trainer and he deserves a really good horse like this again.

    “Constitution Hill is starting to become the people’s horse and Nicky is the people’s trainer.”

    You may also be interested in…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...