Constitution Hill Absence a Big Blow for Cheltenham Festival

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Trainer Nicky Henderson revealed the news just before the Champion Hurdle confirmations that his horse will miss the Cheltenham Festival this year due to unsatisfactory blood tests.

The defending champion was disappointing in his final Festival workout which prompted Henderson to carry out the tests. On the back of those, the experienced trained felt his horse needed more time to recover from his setback.

State Man Now the Favourite to Go One Place Better

The absence of Constitution Hill is a big boost to the chances of last year’s Champion Hurdle runner-up State Man. He is now one of the popular Cheltenham bets today for the day one feature where he is the 1/3 favourite.

Mullins has some excellent chances across the week at the Cheltenham Festival, which is why he is the long odds-on favourite at 1/16 in the Cheltenham top trainer odds. He will feel State Man is one of his best chances at the meeting.

State Man has won all three of his races this season, so he heads across the Irish Sea in excellent form. He has recorded victories in the Morgiana Hurdle, Matheson Hurdle and Irish Champion Hurdle. The latter came at the Dublin Racing Festival recently, where he beat a strong field by five lengths to defend his crown in the race.

Iberico Lord Supplemented for The Race

Connections of Iberico Lord have opted to supplement their horse into the Champion Hurdle field at the cost of £18,000. He was set to run in the County Hurdle, but with the Championship race now weakened without the defending champion, they are opting to take a chance.

Iberico Lord has won two of his three races this season. He was victorious on his opening start of the campaign in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham back in November. More recently, he prevailed in a premier handicap at Newbury.

Should Iberico Lord come out on top in the Champion Hurdle, it would complete what has been a rollercoaster couple of weeks for the former British Champion Trainer. He has had to deal with the disappointment of Constitution Hill missing the race, but in Iberico Lord, he still goes into the 2m contest with an excellent chance of a record-extending 10th triumph in the prestigious race.

Aintree or Punchestown Could Be Next for Seven Barrows Superstar

Although there has been no official confirmation about when Constitution Hill may run next, Aintree’s Grand National meeting and the Punchestown Festival are likely to come under consideration, should he recover in time.

Constitution Hill won the Aintree Hurdle in 2023 where he confirmed his form with many of the horses he had beaten a month earlier at the Cheltenham Festival. That race may give him the chance to improve his record to nine wins.

The seven-year-old has yet to race outside of the UK under rules but the Punchestown Festival in late April could be the perfect chance for him to take on a new challenge. Irish racing fans would relish the opportunity to see the talented horse up close.

Whatever happens this year, Henderson and the horse’s owner, Michael Buckley, have a big decision to make about how they campaign their horse next season, with chasing sure to be a big possibility.

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