Even the most experienced trainers can be surprised by a horse. That was most definitely the case when Nicky Henderson clapped eyes on Constitution Hill, and he had the Seven Barrows handler waxing lyrical at Sandown.
Former jockey Barry Geraghty, who works in conjunction with Warren Ewing, sourcing potential equine stars in Ireland, urged owner Michael Buckley to buy the Blue Bresil gelding. But when Henderson saw him, he had second thoughts.
He explained: “He is the most extraordinary creature I have come across.
“After I had had him about two months, I rang up Barry Gergahty and said, ‘What have you sent me?’ I rang Warren up and said, ‘It is not even a racehorse!’. But wait until you get working. You sit in behind two horses and don’t think you are on anything, but you pull him out and press a button and he just disappears – on the bridle! It is extraordinary.”
Constitution Hill may well turn into another Henderson star, based on his electric performance in landing the Andy Stewart Sandown Park’s Great Friend National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle by 14 lengths on the bridle.
The 85-40 market drifter powered home under Nico de Boinville, despite barely turning a hair in the two-mile event, easing clear of Might I (6-4 favourite) after the last.
“He is the most extraordinary creature I have come across in years. I promise you now, he will go back to his stable now and will just lie down and go to sleep,” added Henderson.
“He has a bag of toe. You press a button and he goes. It is extraordinary. I have never seen a more laid-back horse in all my life. Ever. And that’s in 40 years.
“As Nico said when he got down to the start, he just ambles around, and he holds the whole string up every morning when we are walking and trotting.
“And he can’t be fit, because he is fatter than me – which is difficult! It is extraordinary. You love horses like that. Fable is the same, but she is the worst work horse in the world. At least this one, when you press the button, you knew the button worked. I was hoping it would here.
“That’s the fun of the game, trying to work them out. We were gobsmacked when we saw him work the first time. Everybody was.
“It was Barry who kept ringing Michael to say this is the next Brain Power.
“We might come back for a Tolworth, but luckily we have a few to play with. Jonbon was quite good last weekend. I hope they are high-class, but listen, they are all chasers for the future. In 10 years’ time, when I’m 90, we’ll still be going strong!”
Betfair quote Constitution Hill at 10-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.