Published On: Wed, Mar 13th, 2024

Nicky Henderson pulls three horses out of Cheltenham Festival in heartbreaking statement | Racing | Sport

Nicky Henderson has confirmed that three of his horses have pulled out of Cheltenham Festival on day two. It comes less than a week after Constitution Hill, who had been among the favourites to win the Champion Hurdle, was ruled out of the meeting due to a lung infection.

Henderson endured a torrid opening day of the festival, with Jeriko Du Reponet and Iberico Lord among five of his horses that failed to finish their respective races. The 73-year-old issued a statement on Wednesday morning to confirm that Jonbon, First Street and Kingston Pride would not be involved on day two, with further non-runners expected before the end of the meeting.

“I’m afraid we have had to make some very tough decisions following the very disappointing performances of all bar one of our horses yesterday,” the statement read.

“It was there for all to see that there is obviously something affecting nearly all our horses and consequently we have reluctantly decided that Jonbon, First Street and Kingston Pride will not run today.

“It is impossible to identify any reason for all the disappointments and none of these three horses have given us any cause for concern and all yesterday’s runners were scoped clean post-race and I am glad to say are all sound this morning. There will unfortunately be further non-runners on Thursday and Friday.

“I hope everybody will appreciate that we have to do this in everybody’s interests, particularly the horses. It is very, very disappointing for everybody.”

Rank outsiders Jingko Blue, Doddiethegreat and Lucky Place are still in the field but could be pulled out.

Luccia was the only runner in Henderson’s stable to finish a race on day one at Cheltenham, claiming third place in the Champion Hurdle at odds of 33/1. Henderson was later quizzed by the stewards about the runnings of Jeriko Du Reponet and Iberico Lord but was unable to offer an explanation for their disappointing performances.

“Everything you do at home tells you they’re all perfectly right, otherwise to be honest with you they wouldn’t be here,” said Henderson later in the day.

“We’ll just have to play it quietly and take them as individuals. [The tests] say they’re all OK, but this ground has gone against quite a few of them, so we’ll have to regroup. I can think of two or three that won’t want to be running on that ground, but I need to talk to the owners first.”

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