Constitution Hill ruled out of Cheltenham Festival

Constitution Hill is line to defend his BetMGM Fighting Fifth Hurdle title at Newcastle on Saturday – if the meeting survives the forecast freezing weather. Picture by PA
Constitution Hill will not defend his Champion Hurdle title at next week's Cheltenham Festival

Constitution Hill will not run at the Cheltenham Festival, trainer Nicky Henderson has announced.

The unbeaten and defending Champion Hurdle hero worked poorly at Kempton Park last Tuesday, putting his participation at the showpiece meeting in major doubt.

A scope showed mucus in his lungs and despite slightly more positive news in the following days, results of a blood test on Thursday proved to be another blow.

He was scoped again on Friday morning, with Henderson saying that “showed the Neutrophil percentage, indicative of infection, was back to normal parameters with no mucus evident”.

However, he stressed another blood test on Monday would probably prove to be the “acid test”, and on receiving the results he posted on his official X account: “Very sadly we are going to have to admit defeat in the battle to get Constitution Hill ready for the Champion Hurdle and therefore have to declare that he will not be running there this year.”