Connections of Impaire Et Passe are keen to have a crack at the Champion Hurdle despite the imposing figure of Constitution Hill standing in their way.

Trained by Willie Mullins and owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, Impaire Et Passe looked imperious in winning all four outings last term.

While his six-and-a-half-length victory over stablemate Gaelic Warrior in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle last season was impressive, he is a best-priced 13-2 for the Champion Hurdle, with current title-holder Constitution Hill the general 4-9 favourite after his connections ruled out a chasing switch.

“Impaire Et Passe is staying hurdling. Connections are keen to have a crack at the Champion Hurdle,” said Mullins.

“I’m not sure if that decision was made before the Constitution Hill one or not, but I think he has a fair crack at the Champion Hurdle.

“He won the Ballymore, the only reason he ran in that was because we had Facile Vega in the Supreme, so that is the route he will go down.

“If he improves any little bit – he’ll probably have to improve a fair bit to beat Constitution Hill – but I think he can and that is the decision we’ve made. I think he might start in the Hatton’s Grace.”

Second to Constitution Hill last season was Mullins’ State Man. He won all his other four outings at Grade One level but has nine lengths to find with Nicky Henderson’s supreme talent.

“I think when you can win four Grade Ones in Ireland – every horse is only one gallop away from an injury – it’s all to play for. Constitution Hill has to get there and so do we, so we just felt that he could earn his keep easier over hurdles, that was the main reason (for staying over hurdles),” said Mullins.

“The obvious race is the Morgiana. It’s hard to see him beating Constitution Hill, but I’m hoping he’ll improve.

“The two of them will get entries in both the Morgiana and Hatton’s Grace, the two could run in either, it will depend on who is ready first. Whoever runs in the Morgiana, we might let the other go for the Hatton’s Grace.”

Some bookmakers have Mullins’ Triumph Hurdle winner Lossiemouth in the Champion Hurdle betting but she is likely to stick to her own sex.

“Lossiemouth could go for the Champion Hurdle or the Mares’ Hurdle but it will more than likely be the Mares’ Hurdle,” said Mullins.

“I haven’t decided where I will start her yet as she had a busy enough season last season, she’s only four. We’d probably like to run her at Christmas, Dublin Festival and Cheltenham so whether she runs before Christmas, I’ve not decided and might just keep her fresh.”

Connections of Impaire Et Passe insist a potential clash with Constitution Hill was not a factor in their decision to keep last season’s star novice hurdler over the smaller obstacles this term.

There were differing views on Tuesday after Nicky Henderson confirmed his Champion Hurdle hero Constitution Hill would not be embarking on a chasing career in the immediate future, with some bemoaning the decision due to the perceived lack of depth in the two-mile hurdling division.

In Impaire Et Passe, though, he could face a new and significant rival, with the five-year-old having won each of four starts since joining Willie Mullins, including a dominant success in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Given the irresistible force that stands in their way, many expected Impaire Et Passe’s owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede to elect to send their charge over fences in the autumn – but he will indeed head down the Champion Hurdle route, regardless of the opposition.

The owners’ racing manager, Anthony Bromley, said: “Basically it was always the thinking all summer that Impaire Et Passe was pretty inexperienced and another season hurdling would be good for the horse.

“We weren’t making the decision based on what other horses were around us, we were making the decision based on what was the best decision for the horse and his long-term career.

“You never know what will happen to all these horses, so you make the decision based on what’s best for the actual animal rather than what’s around you, that was the thinking really.”

While the chances of Constitution Hill going chasing in the future appear slim, Impaire Et Passe is expected to switch disciplines next term.

Bromley added: “He’s so lightly raced that another season hurdling will hopefully toughen him up and then we can go chasing next season.

“He is the stamp of a chaser so he is exciting for that job, but we’ll see how high he can go over hurdles first.”

Constitution Hill will stay over hurdles this season, trainer Nicky Henderson has announced.

The six-year-old is unbeaten in seven career starts to date, with six of those victories at Grade One level, including a nine-length triumph in last season’s Champion Hurdle.

Following Constitution Hill’s Aintree Hurdle verdict in April, Henderson, owner Michael Buckley and jockey Nico de Boinville discussed a possible switch to chasing over the summer.

However, they have now decided to remain over the smaller obstacles, with another Champion Hurdle success the ultimate aim.

Henderson told the PA news agency: “The news on Constitution Hill is that after a lot of deliberating and a lot of advice from everybody in the world, because everybody wants a piece of this, he is going to stay over hurdles.

“At the end of the day I don’t think it was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. People will ask if we’ve schooled him over fences and why have we come to this decision.

“He would jump fences with his eyes shut, if we wanted him to, but the basis of the decision was we had to be 100 per cent sure that he would stay three and a quarter miles (in the Gold Cup).

“There was nothing to be gained by switching to fences by running in an Arkle, Champion Chase and possibly a Ryanair, great races though they are, but the Champion Hurdle is the Champion Hurdle, so if you are going to run in anything you might as well stick to what you know.

“I dare say there will be plenty of people saying this is unimaginative, but there was no doubt in Nico’s (De Boinville) mind, stamina was likely to be a major issue and the only point in doing it was if one felt he could become a Gold Cup horse.”

“For all three of us the decision was unanimous. You might say why did it take three months, but we all felt it was the right decision.”

Nicky Henderson is set to announce next week whether Constitution Hill will remain over hurdles or pursue a fencing career this season.

The undoubted star of National Hunt racing has won each of his seven starts over the smaller obstacles to date, including a brilliant victory in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

With autumn fast approaching, connections must now decide whether to head down the same route this term or change tack – and the eagerly-anticipated news appears imminent.

Speaking to Newbury Today, Henderson said: “We’ll announce what we’re doing next week.

“We’re still to-ing and fro-ing, so many things have to go right so whatever we do is a bit of a risk.

“We won’t send him chasing unless we’re absolutely sure.

“He’s had a great summer and we’re still weighing up our options.”

The key to the decision appears to be whether the Seven Barrows handler feels the Michael Buckley-owned Constitution Hill possesses the required stamina to at some stage have a crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup over three and a quarter miles.

Legendary mare Dawn Run is the only horse to win the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup, and only a potential repeat of that famous double will tempt Henderson to go over the larger obstacles with his pride and joy.

He added: “There’s no point switching to fences just to win the Champion Chase now, because you might as well win the Champion Hurdle again.”

Meanwhile, Nico de Boinville, who has been ever present in the saddle during Constitution Hill’s career so far, is relishing the opportunity to be reunited with the six-year-old in the coming months.

De Boinville – who will be in action on the Flat on Thursday when he rides the David Simcock-trained Fulfilled in the Everyone’s Booking Fit Show 2025 Jump Jockeys Derby at Epsom – said: “Last season with Constitution Hill was fantastic, everyone really enjoyed it and we have all had a bit of time to reflect on what he did.

“I thought last season’s Cheltenham Festival was great and it was fantastic to play our small part in it in winning the Champion Hurdle.

“Constitution Hill has spent the summer at Charlie Vigors’ (Hillwood Stud) and he has come back in looking well and I can’t wait to get going with him again. ”

On his upcoming mount at the home of the Derby, he added: “I’ve not ridden for David Simcock since my amateur days so I’m very much looking forward to it.

“It is my second ride in the race, but I’ve had a couple of other rides around Epsom as an amateur.

“It will be very competitive for sure, but I will be giving it a good go. As long as I beat David Bass I will be happy!”

Nicky Henderson says Constitution Hill “couldn’t be better” following his summer break – but he is yet to partake in the all-important schooling session which could determine if jumps racing’s unbeaten superstar remains over hurdles or goes chasing.

National Hunt racing’s flagship horse is a perfect seven from seven in his career to date and has swept the board over timber, blowing away his rivals to win six Grade One prizes on the bounce.

Having conquered all over the smaller obstacles, the burning question is whether connections will take the plunge and embark on a campaign over fences with the reigning Champion Hurdler in the new season.

Constitution Hill is back at Seven Barrows following an enjoyable summer at Hillwood Stud, with owner Michael Buckley and Henderson having plenty to consider together with jockey Nico de Boinville.

“He couldn’t be better, he’s looking enormous and great,” said Henderson.

“We’re waiting for the weather just to have a look-see and it will probably be a few weeks before we do, but we’re looking at him, not that he can talk.”

It is not the first time Henderson has had to make the crucial decision over which direction to send one of his stable stars, with the situation reminding him of Altior’s early days at the Lambourn centre of excellence.

Patricia Pugh’s pride and joy was unbeaten in five outings over hurdles, but the decision was made to switch and he went on to win 15 of his 18 starts over fences, including the Champion Chase twice and the Arkle.

However, Henderson believes there are more variables at play on this occasion, with the pull of becoming the first horse since Dawn Run to win both the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup meaning stamina is a vital component connections need to be sure is in Constitution Hill’s armoury.

“It’s a difficult dilemma and I remember going through it with Altior when we were in exactly the same boat – OK, he hadn’t won a Champion Hurdle but he would have done if he had stayed hurdling, there is no doubt about that.

“It’s the same dilemma and again we schooled Altior over fences and he was absolutely brilliant and we decided to go down that route.

“There are other issues to consider this time, because it is also going to be a question of stamina really and we would be doing it if we think he is a stayer.

“You would want to be thinking along the Gold Cup lines, that would be the reason for going chasing.

“He can do most things because he is so relaxed about life and I think he would stay as far as you liked to be honest. He just goes to sleep very easily and he’s not one who will overrace.

“We’ve been talking about it as you can guess, but Nico is still away at the moment because there is a break (in the summer jumps season) and we’ll keep thinking, but he’s in very good form.”

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