Structure Hill: Champion Hurdle winner a doubt for Cheltenham after poor exercise

Reigning Champion Hurdle winner Structure Hill is a doubt for subsequent month’s Cheltenham Competition after a below-par exercise at Kempton Park.

The seven-year-old was an odds-on favorite to retain his title however bookmakers have suspended the market.

Coach Nicky Henderson took a number of of his Cheltenham challengers to the monitor on Tuesday.

However Structure Hill’s efficiency on the Sunbury course led Henderson to ship him for medical checks.

The horse, who was dubbed “the horse of a technology” by AP McCoy after a snug victory ultimately 12 months’s Competition, has solely had one begin this season. That got here within the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day the place he gained simply beneath jockey Nico de Boinville, and he missed final month’s Cheltenham Trials Day over health issues.

“Sadly, in a routine gallop this morning, Structure Hill was very disappointing and it transpires, after the vet has scoped him, that there’s proof of mucus,” stated Henderson.

“We’re taking a pattern of it to a laboratory to analyse it, which is able to inform us in regards to the significance of it and we must always know extra after that.

“Final week, he labored brilliantly and he was scoped 10 days in the past, however these items occur, identical to it did with him earlier within the 12 months.

“Horses are like people, look how many individuals had the terrible cough round Christmas that took ages to eliminate.

“Whether it is simply mucus, you’ll be able to clear it up with antibiotics.”

Henderson is hanging on to hope of a swift restoration, and he added: “The vets nonetheless suppose it might clear up in every week and all his severe work has been performed already, whether or not he makes it [to Cheltenham] will rely upon the severity of it.

“He was disappointing this morning working with Sir Gino [Triumph Hurdle favourite], who he has labored with up to now. He would usually go simply with him, however this morning he could not, so Nico realised all was not effectively and wasn’t laborious on him.

“Clearly, the mucus was affecting him. He isn’t coughing, he is simply received a unclean image, as we are saying.

“I am not saying positively both manner [about Cheltenham] and I will preserve hoping. As you’ll be able to think about, it has come as a little bit of a shock.”

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