Constitution Hill Wins Cheltenham Festival Opener As Henderson Secures One-Two

Nicky Henderson has had a flying start to the Festival
13:49, 15 Mar 2022

Constitution Hill has won the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival in a record time to get the week off to the perfect start for the British contingent, and trainer Nicky Henderson. The pre-race favourite was forced to race quickly as Dysart Dynamo took an early lead, but his fall midway through the race opened the door for a rampant victory. 

The Henderson trained horse came home in 3m 44.35s to break Altior's record set in 2016, by one and half seconds. 

Dysart Dynamo and Jonbon led from the front followed by Constitution Hill and Mighty Potter. After a false start, Paul Townend allowed the front runner to stretch his legs and in doing so lengthened the field as Nico de Boinville caught up with stablemate Jonbon as he closed the gap on the leader.

At flight four, Dysart Dynamo was being stalked by the Nicky Henderson duo but the front three were led to a big advantage with three to go as Dysart Dynamo then made an error over a fence which saw him fall and hand the initiative to the Henderson duo.

Fortunately, both rider and horse got straight back up after the fall, but Nico de Boinville took the initiative from Aidan Coleman and Constitution Hill charged up the hill to put clear distance in between himself and Jonbon, who had to fight to hold onto second from Kilcruit who finished strongly. 

60,000 fans flocked back to the most famous racecourse in the world and the opener certainly delivered what they wanted as the favourite came flying home to a delighted packed grandstand. The fans are so important to this Festival and it was truly a delight to see them back enjoying some elite level racing. 

This result means that the Brits take an early lead in the Prestbury Cup as Nicky Henderson secures a vital one-two in the opening race of the week. The Seven Barrows handler had been intrigued to see which of his unbeaten horses would come out on top in this race, and now we know, Constitution Hill was the one who charged up the most famous hill in racing, to take a handsome victory. If Henderson continues on this form, he will be delighted come Friday. 

There was some tragic news however from this race, as Shallwehaveonemore fatally fell at the final hurdle, and was put down after ten minutes of treatment on course by the vets. It was a truly devastating moment for the whole Festival, and certainly took the shine off the opening race. 

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