The dream duel between undefeated Honeysuckle and dazzling novice Constitution Hill could be on the table at Punchestown after Nicky Henderson confirmed the latter will have two entries at the Kildare route next month.
After both impressive performances at last week’s Cheltenham Festival, the racing world is already excited at the prospect of the pair colliding in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, while Constitution Hill will also compete in the Bective Stud Champion Novice Hurdle.
Henderson will keep open the option of the Supreme Novices dominant hurdle winner taking on two-time Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle, with the Sevens Barrows champion set to discuss the matter with Constitution Hill owner Michael Buckley, who is the prospect first discussed Cheltenham successes before them.
“I’m afraid Michael seems to have taken the mantle,” Henderson said of the crash that everyone in racing talks about. “I just read the reports! I honestly don’t know what we’re going to do. We didn’t discuss it. I know he’s very keen on taking on Honeysuckle.
“I think there’s a good chance he’ll get an entry in the Champion Hurdle as it keeps the options open. Michael is a great athlete and nothing will stop him, that’s for sure. So we’ll see.
“He’s inexperienced but he’s very straightforward. He’s just like Honeysuckle, isn’t he? She is a push button machine.”
Bettors will be flocking to the Punchestown Festival, which runs April 26-30 when it becomes a reality, with Henderson acknowledging it would have the hallmarks of a “very special day” as Sprinter Sacre 2013 Champion Chase at the legendary Kildare landed venue.
“It was wonderful. The best part was the Irish reception he got, it was incredible. Normally a French-bred horse trained in England doesn’t get that kind of an ovation. The crowd was absolutely amazing and it was a very special day,” said Henderson.
2020 hurdle champion winner Epatante, Mares’ hurdle heroine Marie’s Rock and another exciting newcomer, Walking On Air, who missed Cheltenham after a slight setback, are others who will make the cross-channel excursion for Henderson .
“Epatante had a good year. She has won a Fighting Fifth and a Christmas Hurdle and is now runner-up in the Champion Hurdle. Only Honeysuckle could beat her. She’ll almost certainly come around,” he said.
“We’ve talked about Aintree but it’s two and a half (miles) and she doesn’t want two and a half. It’s all about speed. There’s nothing obvious for Marie’s Rock in Aintree, so I’d say she’s going somewhere in Punchestown.
“What Jonbon does will probably depend on what Constitution Hill does. Walking On Air may head to Punchestown after missing Cheltenham. He’s pretty smart and has responded really well.”
With the British season ending at Sandown in the week before Punchestown, Henderson isn’t giving himself a chance to end up as champion coach but is tickled that Willie Mullins has put it on his agenda as the Cloustton maestro defending champion Paul Nicholls and a first British crown hunts add to his 15 on home soil.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/horse-racing/punchestown/honeysuckle-and-constitution-hill-dream-duel-closer-to-reality-as-nicky-henderson-takes-aim-at-punchestown-41486463.html Honeysuckle and Constitution Hill’s dream match comes closer to reality when Nicky Henderson takes aim at Punchestown