Epatante To Have Different Prep Ahead Of Champion Hurdle Defence


Champion Hurdle victor Epatante for Nicky Henderson has stated that he is likely to take a different route with his star mare on her way to the Grade One next March where she will be looking to land back to back renewals of the event.

The JP McManus owned superstar remained unbeaten when taking the Tuesday feature at the festival and had an twice before her trip to Prestbury Park.

She started her season off in the Gerry Feilden Intermediate Hurdle at Newbury and then on her final start before Cheltenham landed the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.

With Henderson holding plenty off cards in the Champion Hurdle division, including the dual winner Buveur D'Air set to return next season after falling injured in the Grade One Fighting Fifth in November, he may mix things up where he sends his stablestars before March.

(credit At The Races) Henderson said: "She is going to have to go down a different route back to the Champion Hurdle to what she started this season.

“Hopefully we have Buveur D’Air back in action and the Fighting Fifth has always been his race, so we would have to think what we do.”

Heading into the Champion Hurdle Epatante had her doubters after running once at Cheltenham the season before and tailing off in the Mares Novices' Hurdle but she more than silenced them.

“It was good and everything she did was very professional to be fair and everything went right. It was a lovely ride from Barry (Geraghty),” said the Seven Barrows handler.

“She jumped and travelled well and you could she looked to have a good shout from a long way out, as she was always in the right position.

“She showed the gears I hoped she would show, as a lot of people said when she showed them at Kempton it would be different at Cheltenham. Luckily for us she did show them the whole way up the hill.

“We have constantly stood by her excuses for last year’s run at the Festival and luckily she has vindicated us for doing that.”