Cheltenham favourite Epatante coughing says Nicky Henderson

Nicky Henderson has revealed ante-post Champion Hurdle favourite Epatante is coughing.

The mare had topped the market for the feature on day one of The Festival after a silky smooth success at Kempton over Christmas.

Yet she may not make the Unibet-sponsored race on March 10, after health concerns were made public by her trainer.

"In order to keep everybody in the picture I regret to say Epatante has been coughing a few times over the last couple of days for no obvious reason that we can detect," Henderson said.

“Her blood tests are perfectly normal and she is feeling very well and fresh in herself.

"Obviously JP, I, and all the team could do without this scare but this does not prevent her continuing her routine work.

"We will monitor the situation over the weekend and will regularly update everybody with any news. Both my vets and I are more than hopeful this will not interfere with her Champion Hurdle preparation.

“She’s now on medication which will not affect her racing or training. We will blood test and scope her again on Monday when I will be in a better position to clarify the situation, which obviously we all hope will be positive news.

“I would like to make it very clear that, touch wood, she is the only horse who has coughed at Seven Barrows at any stage this week.”

Epatante is one of five entries from Seven Barrows for the £450,000 race, alongside Pentland Hills, Call Me Lord, Fusil Raffles and Verdana Blue.

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