Constitution Hill to avoid Honeysuckle Punchestown clash

The news that the racing world was expecting was confirmed by Nicky Henderson on Monday April 18, when the trainer said that Constitution Hill will not go to Punchestown to take on Honeysuckle.

The move is an understandable one, given the inexperience on the Supreme winner's CV by comparison to the unbeaten dual Champion Hurdler.

Constitution Hill annihilated what, on paper at least, appeared to be a very good Supreme field last month, in a time faster than Honeysuckle produced when also being the clear winner of hurdling's Blue Riband.

From that point, the groundswell of hope has been that the pair would 'face off' at Punchestown next week. However, Henderson has taken his decision in consultation with owner Michael Buckley, and in the best interests of a horse he would not want to 'bottom' at this early stage.

That, despite the carrot of a £100,000 bonus being offered by Paddy Power, sponsors of the Punchestown version of the Champion Hurdle.

"We've been umming and aahing for a good fortnight now. It was very tempting," the Seven Barrows handler said on Nick Luck's Daily Podcast.

"But he is a big, quite raw five-year-old who has only had three races in his life and his future is so big - and believe it or not, I think he can be a better horse and stronger horse in a year's time.

"I'd just rather finish on a good note with everything in front of him. There's all the time in the world to meet Honeysuckle and hopefully it will be in March (at Cheltenham)."

"He will definitely stay over hurdles and he can have a proper campaign next season," added Henderson.

"To go over there (Ireland) and do this against what is undoubtedly a very good mare, it's not so much that we're frightened of her, it's just doing something that wasn't really in Constitution Hill's interest and to his benefit.

"I think the field and a nice summer out is of more benefit and we'll just try to build up this frame a little bit more.

"We've declined all the temptations."

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