Nicky Henderson with stable stars Constitution Hill (left) and Jonbon © Photo Healy Racing
Nicky Henderson rates State Man a “very serious danger” to Constitution Hill’s Unibet Champion Hurdle challenge.
The Willie Mullins-trained runner accounted for dual Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle by just under five lengths in Sunday’s Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle, prompting Coral to clip him into 3-1 from 4-1.
Henderson’s Constitution Hill remains the 1-4 favourite for the Festival contest though, having won his last three Grade Ones in a canter — landing the Supreme, Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdles by a combined 51 lengths.
With connections of Honeysuckle ruling out another Champion Hurdle bid for their star, the long-awaited face-off between that pair is now off the table. But Henderson was impressed with manner of State Man’s victory and believes it is going to be tricky to predict the likely outcome at Cheltenham.
He told Unibet: “Constitution Hill is sitting in his box, I didn’t let him see the race, but as far as the Champion Hurdle is concerned, it’s hard to tell really.
“You’ve got to say State Man was impressive and he’s certainly thrown down a very serious challenge to Constitution Hill et al, because there are going to be others — you never know what else could come out of the pack.
“Constitution is well but there’s no doubt State Man is going to be a very serious danger and it just makes for an intriguing Champion Hurdle. We’re all looking forward to it, with fingers crossed.”