Champion Hurdle 2024 odds: Constitution Hill to defend crown
Constitution Hill has been cut from 4/7 to 1/2 in Coral’s Champion Hurdle 2024 odds after trainer Nicky Henderson announced he will stay over the smaller obstacles this term.
The six-year-old is unbeaten in seven career starts to date, with six of those victories at Grade One level, including a nine-length triumph in last season’s Champion Hurdle.
Following Constitution Hill’s Aintree Hurdle verdict in April, Henderson, owner Michael Buckley and jockey Nico de Boinville discussed a possible switch to chasing over the summer.
However, they have now decided to remain over timber, with another Champion Hurdle success the ultimate aim.
Should Constitution Hill have gone down the chasing route, the dream was to emulate Dawn Run, the only horse to have won a Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup.
By staying over hurdles, such is his superiority over the division at the moment, the aim could be to match the five previous three-time winners, one of which is Henderson’s See You Then, or even potentially take the record outright with four.
Henderson said: “The great thing is he is young enough (to break records). If you were going to go chasing it would have to be now. By not doing it, this is the decision for the time being but you never say never. He’s six now so he’ll be seven in March.”
Coral’s David Stevens commented: “With chasing off the agenda for Constitution Hill, the focus will now be on his hurdling career CV, and such is his ability, he’s just 7/4 to join the club of three-time Champion Hurdle winners, and 4/1 to become the first four-time winner of the race.”
Henderson told the PA news agency: “At the end of the day, I don’t think it was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. People will ask if we’ve schooled him over fences and why have we come to this decision.
“He would jump fences with his eyes shut, if we wanted him to, but the basis of the decision was we had to be 100 per cent sure that he would stay three and a quarter miles (in the Gold Cup).
“There was nothing to be gained by switching to fences by running in an Arkle, Champion Chase and possibly a Ryanair, great races though they are, but the Champion Hurdle is the Champion Hurdle, so if you are going to run in anything, you might as well stick to what you know.
“I dare say there will be plenty of people saying this is unimaginative, but there was no doubt in Nico’s mind, stamina was likely to be a major issue and the only point in doing it was if one felt he could become a Gold Cup horse.
“For all three of us the decision was unanimous. You might say why did it take three months, but we all felt it was the right decision.”
A campaign has already been mapped out for the coming season and Henderson added: “The main thing is we know exactly what we’ve got to try to do. We’ll start off in the Fighting Fifth, then there’s only 20-odd days until the Christmas Hurdle.
“This year, what is different is they have moved the Unibet International to Trials Day at Cheltenham (January 27) when it used to be in December. That gives us another race potentially, before Cheltenham in March.
“We’ll see what happens after that because then you have Aintree and Punchestown. He’s only had seven races in his life…we want to run him as much as everybody hopefully wants to see him, moving the International gives us another opportunity.”
Connections of Impaire Et Passe plan to challenge Constitution Hill’s dominance of the two-mile hurdling division, though.
The five-year-old has won each of four starts since joining Willie Mullins, including a superb success in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Given the irresistible force that stands in their way, many expected Impaire Et Passe’s owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede to elect to send their charge over fences in the autumn – but he will head down the Champion Hurdle route and is 5/1 second favourite with Coral.
The owners’ racing manager, Anthony Bromley, said: “Basically, it was always the thinking all summer that Impaire Et Passe was pretty inexperienced and another season hurdling would be good for the horse.
“We weren’t making the decision based on what other horses were around us, we were making the decision based on what was the best decision for the horse and his long-term career.
“You never know what will happen to all these horses, so you make the decision based on what’s best for the actual animal rather than what’s around you, that was the thinking really.”
1/2 Constitution Hill
5/1 Impaire Et Passe
6/1 State Man
14/1 Marine Nationale
20/1 Lossiemouth, Vauban, Zarak The Brave
33/1 Facile Vega
All odds and market correct at date of publication