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State Man skates in to stay on course for Constitution clash


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Classy hurdler confirms his status as the biggest threat to hot Champion Hurdle favourite with smooth Leopardstown win

State Man took his record in Grade One races over hurdles to seven wins from eight starts with a comfortable success in the Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown on Friday and will be fancied to add another in the Irish Champion Hurdle in February. But he remains a 4-1 chance to avenge the only top-level defeat of his career – a nine-length beating by the exceptional Constitution Hill – when he returns to the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

It is one of many measures of Constitution Hill’s freakish talent that he dispatched an opponent of State Man’s quality with such ease at last year’s Festival meeting. Impaire Et Passe, a stable companion at the Willie Mullins yard and the winner of last season’s Ballymore Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham, was a fresh opponent for State Man in Friday’s contest, but the odds-on favourite still put the race to bed in a matter of strides on the run to the final flight.

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