The dream duel between Honeysuckle and Constitution Hill will have to wait until next year’s Cheltenham Festival after Nicky Henderson defied “all temptations” at next week’s Punchestown Festival with the brilliant Supreme Novices hurdle winner.
Institution Hill is more likely to head into his summer break than a tantalizing encounter with two-time Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle, with Henry de Bromhead’s superstar mare now expected to take her remarkable unbeaten streak to 16 at the Kildare track.
A possible clash between the star-studded pair had been mooted in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at Punchestown on Friday following their recent festival successes, with race sponsors dangling the carrot of a £100,000 bonus should a British horse triumph.
Talks with owner Michael Buckley over the weekend confirmed the decision to sit out the five-year-old, who has had just four career starts, for the remainder of the season.
However, Henderson remains confident he will be a ‘better horse’ next season ahead of a delicious showdown at Cheltenham.
“We’ve been humming and aahing for a good fortnight now. It was very tempting,” Henderson said on Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast. “But he’s a big, pretty raw five-year-old who’s only had three races in his life and his future is so bright.
“And believe it or not, I think he can be a better and stronger horse in a year’s time. I would just rather finish on a good note when everything is ahead of him. There is all the time in the world to meet Honeysuckle and hopefully it will be in March (at Cheltenham next year).”
The Seven Barrows handler added of the precocious youngster: “He will definitely get over hurdles and he can have a proper campaign next season. Going there (Ireland) and doing it against what is undoubtedly a very good mare is not so much that we are afraid of her.
“It’s just about doing something that wasn’t really in the interests of Constitution Hill and for its benefit. I think the field and a nice summer are of more benefit and we’ll just try to build his frame up a bit more. We have rejected all temptations.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/horse-racing/dream-duel-with-honeysuckle-must-wait-as-constitution-hill-skips-punchestown-41564806.html Dream duel with Honeysuckle will have to wait as Constitution Hill skips Punchestown