Constitution Hill dominates competition to claim Christmas Hurdle at Kempton

Constitution Hill once again made winning a top-level race look easy as he breezed to a 17-length success in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

National Hunt racing's new star had beaten stablemate Epatante - herself a previous dual Christmas Hurdle winner - by 12 lengths at Newcastle in the Fighting Fifth and the two met again, much to Nicky Henderson's chagrin. 

Briefly the mare looked to be in with a chance on this occasion, as Nico de Boinville just had to slightly niggle on the 1-7 favourite to go forward as they turned into the straight.

But just as at Newcastle, once Constitution Hill was asked a question he responded in kind, and gradually drew further and further clear.

A spring-heeled leap at the last sealed matters and he remains Paddy Power and Betfair's 4-11 favourite for the Champion Hurdle in March, with Coral unchanged at 2-7.

Henderson said "That was only his fifth race and again it was everything you'd hoped for.

"You just have to pray it all goes right, it's not that easy, it's not just a matter of going out there and coming back, you've got to jump hurdles and be in good shape - which he is - but so was Epatante, I haven't seen her look better.

"Aidan (Coleman) said she's probably run better than when she won this on the bridle last year, but he said he was only chasing shadows so it shows you what he is achieving - it's frightening really."

Regarding the future he said: "They've taken away my favourite race, the Contenders at Sandown, which was only worth two and six but was the perfect Champion Hurdle trial. I can't think we really want to go to Haydock, Nico said Ireland (Irish Champion Hurdle) but let's just have a look and see. It's either that or nothing I would say.

"The one good thing this year is that we have four weeks between Cheltenham and Aintree so we could step him up to two and a half at Aintree.

"I know everybody wants to see him, but where can you go? I don't think Wincanton is the right place for him and Haydock certainly isn't in my opinion - but he doesn't need to and there's no point doing something you don't need to do.

"He can go there (Cheltenham) fresh no problem, but we'll get today over with and it's the one we needed in the bag. Nico said turning in that he was actually dossing and then he pressed the button and off he went. He was having a nice time - he's quick and fast and accurate and at the moment there's no chinks in that armour because he's got such a great mind.

"He was on his toes today actually which was more than I've seen before, but he's so relaxed at home and Shauna who rides him every day has done a brilliant job with him. The horse is just cool and that's the only word you can call him - he's cool and talented!

"You'd have to think about Ireland, but it's nothing to do with ducking and diving - which is becoming a stupid phrase which I wish they'd ban! My gut feeling was always that we'd go straight there, I don't think we'd achieve anything by going to Haydock. If the Contenders was still here I'd go there, but Cheltenham and Aintree is what it's all about now. It's a very truncated season with four runs, but that's what its come down to unless we travel and Punchestown is too close to Aintree to go there."

"Sensational" was how De Boinville described the winner.

"Horses like him don't come around very often - he is just sensational," he said. "He can do it any way and I don't think you can beat him how he is at moment."

Coleman said of Epatante: "She is running her races. She ran great, travelled and jumped but just couldn't go with the winner. That is four or five goes in a row he has done that so credit where credit is due. His performances are freakish but my mare ran really well.

"I suppose the Mares' Hurdle has always been talked about. She is a fantastic mare in her own right and has run another great race. Her last 13 races have all been in Grade Ones and she has been a fantastic mare. What she does now I'm not sure, but hopefully we are not done yet.

"I think her performances are similar to last season and she won three Grade Ones last season. I don't think she has always got the credit she deserves. She has been around a long time and won a lot of Grade Ones. She has been a very good mare, unfortunately she has now just got him to contend with."

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