Can Constitution Hill Challenge in Flat Racing?

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Constitution Hill proved that he was one of the best jumps horses of his generation with two sublime performances to end the 2022/23 National Hunt season. Nicky Henderson’s charge stormed his way to victory in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival before dominating the field once more at the Aintree Hurdle. The exceptional performances of the six-year-old have given Henderson food for thought about racing his champion horse on the flat, which would put him in rare company to compete over both jumps and the flat in a calendar year. Constitution Hill has been slated to run in the Ascot Gold Cup at Royal Ascot where bettors can back him with a free bet using offers highlighted by Oddschecker.

It would be a remarkable achievement for Henderson’s charge to win both a major jumps crown and one of the top prizes available at the signature flat racing festival of the year. But, would it be in the interests of Constitution Hill and Henderson to risk the reputation of his prized asset over unfamiliar territory?

Challenging In The Flat

It has not been uncommon for jumps horses in recent seasons to compete in the Ascot Gold Cup. The Ascot Gold Cup is the biggest distance event at Royal Ascot, where horses compete over two miles and three furlongs for one of the biggest crowns of the prestigious festival. The length of the race lends itself to horses that have stamina and endurance rather than outright speed, which are key disciplines of jumps racing. Burning Victory, out of Willie Mullins’ talented yard, competed in the event in 2022 and put forward a decent outing, finishing in fourth in the event. He was only one-and-a-half lengths off the pace of the winner Kyprios, highlighting how close the race was down the stretch.

Princess Zoe is another jumps horse that came even closer to winning the race when grey mare finished as runner-up to Subjectivist in the 2021 Ascot Gold Cup. She competed again alongside Burning Victory in 2022, but was off the pace in sixth. Although two horses are solid competitors and gave an excellent account of themselves in the race, Henderson will feel that his charge is far superior and would press his credentials for the win. Constitution Hill has been dominant with almost 12st on his back, so he could be even quicker with three stone removed as per the requirements of the Ascot Gold Cup. History could be made as he has no one to fear in the contest other than the unknown.

Damaging Reputation

Constitution Hill is seemingly unstoppable on the track over jumps. He has dominated the field in every race that he was competed in over the last two-and-a-half years. Henderson’s charge has won seven races in a row, but the most impressive feat has been the manner of his success. He has taken apart quality fields by double-digit margins, and his last outing at the Aintree Hurdle, he barely needed to get out of first gear to beat Sharjah by three lengths. Constitution Hill was simply cantering down the stretch with jockey Nico de Boinville simply ushering his charge over the line without any effort at all.

When you’re that dominant in one discipline, why attempt to challenge your aura by taking on unfamiliar territory? That is the question that Henderson will have to answer, and he is usually a safety first operator. So, it might prevent the racing public from seeing Constitution Hill compete in the Ascot Gold Cup. On the other hand, it might allow Henderson to break his usual trend of keeping his elite charges away from the other top jumps races. If he opts against putting Constitution Hill in the Ascot Gold Cup, he may prime the horse ready for a run as a chaser for the 2023/24 National Hunt season with a potential of a run at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2025. It will be fascinating to see how he deploys one of the most exciting racehorses in a generation.

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