Champion Hurdle Favourite Could Miss The Festival


Nicky Henderson released a statement yesterday on his social media account explaining that Epatante, his Champion Hurdle favourite, has suffered a scare in the run up the festival and could be set to miss out.

The JP McManus owned six year old mare is unbeaten this season having raced twice and landing both her events at Newbury and last time out at Kempton in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle which sets the form standard heading into the contest.

Henderson said on his Twitter: “In order to keep everybody in the picture, I regret to say Epatante has been coughing a few times over the last couple of days for no obvious reason that we can detect. Her blood tests are perfectly normal and she is feeling very well and fresh in herself.

“Obviously JP, I, and all the team could do without this scare, but this does not prevent her continuing her routine work. We will monitor the situation over the weekend and will regularly update everybody with any news.

“Both my vets and I are more than hopeful that this will not interfere with her Champion Hurdle preparation. She is now on medication which will not affect her racing or training.

“We will blood test and scope her again on Monday, when I will be in a better position to clarify the situation, which obviously we all hope will be positive news.

“I would like to make it very clear that, touch wood, she is the only horse that has coughed at Seven Barrows at any stage this week.”