Friday, September 30, 2022

Supreme preview: Henderson looking for dream Festival start

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Nicky Henderson has high hopes either Constitution Hill or Jonbon can give Britain a flying start to the Festival by winning the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The Seven Barrows handler has always wanted to pitch them against each other to give the home team the best possible chance of foiling the Irish in the curtain raiser.

Both horses take unbeaten records over hurdles to the meeting, but in character they are polar opposites.

“It was always the plan to run them both but they are like cheese and chalk,” said Henderson.

“Jonbon will always be a bit flighty, it’s probably a help he’s in the first race and we’ll have ways and means of hopefully keeping the lid on him because he’ll be the one on his toes. We’ll protect him from the atmosphere.

“Nothing will worry Constitution Hill, he’s just so laid back. They will be two very good rides in the race. While Jonbon can be a bit keen in the race, there’s no danger of that for Constitution Hill!

“Jonbon had a proper race at Haydock, but he quickened up twice in horrible ground which I was pleased with. By running Constitution Hill again, I was never going to find a competitive race. There wasn’t anywhere else to go where you were going to get more than four or five runners (like in the Tolworth).”

Henderson compares both to his last two winners of the race, who went on to greater things.

“I think they are both very strong. Like Altior and Shishkin, you would like to think they are in their sort of league,” he went on.

“It is always the best race to win on the whole card to be honest with you. We want to see England 1 Ireland 0. It is nice to have two, as two is better than one.

“They have done everything right and I hope all goes well. There is no doubt Willie’s (Mullins) are good, but our job is to mind our own horses.”

Mullins, who has won the Supreme on a record seven occasions, has his own powerful hand, with Dysart Dynamo, Kilcruit and Bring On The Night all in contention.

Dysart Dynamo disputes favouritism with Constitution Hill following his runaway victory in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle, while last season’s Champion Bumper runner-up Kilcruit made it third time lucky over hurdles on his latest outing and appears to be coming into form at the right time.

“Dysart Dynamo was very free the last day in front, but I think Paul (Townend, jockey) has said to me on more than one occasion that when he settles behind a horse he’s fine,” said Mullins.

“Kilcruit jumps well enough, so everything would seem right for him. He handles the track well and you’d think the horse who finished second in the Bumper could go for the two-and-a-half-mile race really, but I’m not sure that would suit him.”

The Gordon Elliott-trained Mighty Potter is another leading hope for the Irish, having been kept fresh for Cheltenham since winning in Grade One company at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Joey Logan, racing manager to owners Caldwell Construction Ltd, said: “I think he’s the forgotten horse of the race, to be honest. His work in the last four to six weeks has been very smart.

“He’s a big horse and a chaser in the making, but he’s got stronger since Christmas and I think he’s going to run a very big race.

“It’s a very competitive race, obviously. You’ve got Nicky’s horses and Willie’s. But take nothing away from Mighty Potter, who has won a Grade One and is unlucky not to have won two Grade Ones (close third in Royal Bond at Fairyhouse).

“Gordon did a fantastic job keeping at home instead of running at the Dublin Racing Festival as it’s freshened him up.

“If he gets into a nice rhythm with his jumping and comes around the bend in second or third, I think he has a serious chance coming up the hill.”

Paul Nicholls’ Silent Revolution has not been seen since early November due to a setback and is among the outsiders.

“He is a useful prospect who won well on his debut over hurdles at Newbury in November before having a little problem with a splint which prevented us giving him another run before Cheltenham,” Nicholls told Betfair.

“But he has done plenty at home and enjoyed an away day at Wincanton where he worked nicely. Obviously we are pitching Silent Revolution into a hot race but we are game to give it a go.”

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