Published On: Wed, Feb 28th, 2024

Nicky Henderson releases statement after Constitution Hill falls ill on eve of Cheltenham | Racing | Sport

Trainer Nicky Henderson has revealed the results of Constitution Hill’s tests after a poor piece of work at Kempton Park on Tuesday, with the gelding now in a race against time to be fit and ready for the Cheltenham Festival next month.

Constitution Hill is widely regarded as the best National Hunt horse in training by punters, though he may not line up to try and defend his Champion Hurdle crown on March 12 following a worrying racecourse gallop.

Footage showed that something was amiss with the seven-year-old on Tuesday morning when he was heavily eased by jockey Nico de Boinville when exercising with Sir Gino, the favourite for the Triumph Hurdle, and Quick Draw.

After watching his stable star struggle, Henderson insisted that Constitution Hill was scoped – which showed excess mucus in his lungs – and for a series of tests to be sent off to the laboratory.

The esteemed trainer has now announced that the 2022 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner is now taking medication to try and resolve the matter as soon as possible so that he can race at Cheltenham next month.

In a statement released by Seven Barrows on X, Henderson revealed: “Following up on this morning’s situation with Constitution Hill, the sample from his tracheal wash has shown a small increase in the number of neutrophils which indicates a respiratory infection which is significant but far from drastic.

“He will start a course of antibiotics immediately and we plan to re-scope him on Friday in order to monitor which way this is going. He would only be having light exercise this week following this morning’s racecourse gallop.

“Both our vet and the racecourse veterinary surgeon who scoped him feel we definitely have a chance of correcting this in time and we will be doing everything possible to do so. We have a fortnight to work him and it is possible, so we will keep everybody notified accordingly. He is absolutely fine within himself and we have simply got to get on top of this issue as quickly as possible.”

Punters have quickly responded to Constitution Hill’s unfortunate illness and do not appear to be holding much hope that he will make a full recovery in time for Cheltenham, with Willie Mullins’ State Man being backed into favouritism in the ante-post market, having finished second to Henderson’s star in last year’s renewal.

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