‘The one card we have up our sleeve’ – Willie Mullins’ warning to Nicky Henderson ahead of Cheltenham Festival battle

WILLIE MULLINS has ramped up the trash talk with Nicky Henderson ahead of their huge Cheltenham Festival showdown.

The legendary trainers will pit two of their best horses head-to-head in the Champion Hurdle on Wednesday, March 15.

Mullins reckons there is much more to come from his Champion Hurdle hope State ManSportsfile

Hendo looks to have the upper hand with hurdling sensation Constitution Hill, who could be the shortest-priced favourite ever in the race.

He is currently around the 1-4 mark while Mullins’ State Man – unbeaten in his last six races – is around 11-4.

Punters have been piling Constitution Hill into their ante-post accas for months, certain he won’t be beaten.

But Mullins, while acknowledging the Michael Buckley-owned jumper is an absolute sensation, isn’t so sure.

He reckons there is more to come from State Man and revealed his mindset in a chat with Sporting Life.

Mullins said: “Constitution Hill looks like he’s going to be a very tough nut to crack but I do think State Man is improving.


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“Any horse that can win the County as a novice is a good jumper – as is the favourite.

“You need to be able to jump slickly and fast to win a Champion Hurdle and have speed too – he’ll need a lot of that on day one.

“He’s coming all the time and there is more to come – that’s the one little card we have up our sleeve.

“He’s a relaxed horse and that will stand him in good stead too.”

Constitution Hill impressed on a gallop at Kempton on Tuesday.

The four-time Grade 1 winner proves a bit of a nightmare for Henderson at home because the trainer can’t find anyone fast enough to keep up with him.

But he said he loved what he saw in one of his final preps before the big day.

Hendo said: “It all went to plan. The last lot was difficult to do because, as I’ve been saying all week, I’ve been hunting the country for a miler that I was going to get to jump in halfway round the back straight!

“To be fair, the other two boys have done a great job there (Paul O’Brien and Daryl Jacob), because they’ve just done their own thing and Nico has done his own thing.

“It was two bits of work happening at once and they did a good job as they just minded themselves.”


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