NICKY HENDERSON says one 'major issue' convinced him to keep unbeaten superstar Constitution Hill over hurdles this season.
The Seven Barrows trainer confirmed to PA on Tuesday that Michael Buckley's star horse will stay over the smaller obstacles.
Owner Buckley had said it would be his dream to win the Gold Cup one day.
But Hendo explained concerns over Constitution Hill staying the 3m2½f trip influenced the final call.
He told PA: "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.
"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."
Punters were quick to nibble whatever odds on they could about Constitution Hill defending his Champion Hurdle crown next March.
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BetVictor went as short as 4-11 with most hovering around the 1-2 or 4-9 mark.
Constitution Hill was 1.55 on the Betfair Exchange (15-8) and £35,371.78 of the £47,906.71 matched on that market has been on the six-year-old.
The horse looks set to follow last year's tried and tested path to victory.
He should start off in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle before going for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
There is a chance, Henderson suggested, he could go for the Unibet Hurdle on Trials Day at the end of January, but that's just a Grade 2.
Then it will be back to Cheltenham for the Festival and one of Aintree or Punchestown.
Henderson said: "That's the logical plan and there's no point deviating from it.
"He's had a good summer – almost too good – but we've plenty of time to get him ready."
Coral make Constitution Hill 4-1 to win a record four or more Champion Hurdles, while 7-4 to match the likes of Istabraq with three.
While Paddy Power have him 14-1 to win the Champion Hurdle by 20 lengths or more.
Punters who had already put Constitution Hill in Champion Hurdle bets for next year's Festival breathed a sigh of relief.
But not everyone was impressed.
One punter wrote: "Such a disappointing decision.
"A season of repetitious predictability awaits along with the frustration of jumps fans being denied the chance to enjoy the next thrilling steps in a truly legendary career."
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Another said: "Boring."
While a fellow Twitter user wrote: "Gold Cup dream gone."
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