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Cheltenham Festival

Champion Hurdle favourite Constitution Hill withdraws from Cheltenham Festival

Published on March 5, 2024
Written by Christopher

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Champion Hurdle favourite Constitution Hill withdraws from Cheltenham Festival
  • Constitution Hill withdrawn from Champion Hurdle
  • Seven-year-old making progress but Cheltenham set to come too soon
  • State Man now odds on favourite for Champion Hurdle

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Constitution Hill withdrawn from Champion Hurdle

The highly anticipated return of last year’s Champion Hurdle winner, Constitution Hill, to the Cheltenham Festival has been dashed due to health concerns. Trainer Nicky Henderson announced that the seven-year-old horse will not compete in this year’s event after a disappointing workout at Kempton Park last week led to medical evaluations.

Henderson initially hoped Constitution Hill would recover in time for the Champion Hurdle, citing an illness characterised by a buildup of mucus. However, subsequent blood tests revealed that the horse’s condition was far from satisfactory, prompting the decision to withdraw him from the competition.

In a statement, Henderson expressed regret over having to concede defeat in the effort to prepare Constitution Hill for the prestigious race. Despite signs of improvement, including elevated spirits and decreased markers in the blood test, it was deemed unwise to subject the horse to further stress.

Constitution Hill’s absence leaves a notable void in the Champion Hurdle, where he was expected to defend his crown after an impressive victory last year. The horse, hailed as “the horse of a generation” by racing legend AP McCoy, had shown promise with a victory at the Christmas Hurdle in Kempton on Boxing Day, but missed the recent Cheltenham Trials Day due to fitness concerns.

In addition to Constitution Hill, another contender, Marine Nationale, trained by Barry Connell, will also be absent from the Cheltenham Festival. Marine Nationale, a favorite for the Arkle Chase, sustained a leg injury, forcing Connell to withdraw the horse from the competition.

These setbacks underscore the unpredictable nature of horse racing and the paramount importance of prioritising the health and well-being of the equine athletes above all else.

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State Man now favourite for Champion Hurdle

After being streets ahead of the opposition last year, Constitution Hill’s defence of the Champion Hurdle was greatly anticipated,  particularly as he has only raced twice since. Obviously his absence will take some of the shine off the festival’s opening day. In some ways, Constitution Hill’s withdrawal could open things up, however Willie Mullins’ State Man, another quality horse, is now odds-on favourite.

Henderson has put the welfare of his horse first and kept punters well informed on the situation. He has obviously looked at the bigger picture knowing that this exceptional horse will have plenty of other opportunities to showcase his talent.

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Chris is a former athlete and a qualified PE teacher. He is a keen football fan, watching many matches at different levels throughout the season, and enjoys following many different sports. With betting and sports sites, he has a keen eye for detail and can to highlight positives and negatives for users. His experience in sport as a performer, teacher, writer and fan allows him to see things from many different perspectives. Editorial Promise
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