'It would be nice to split him and Teahupoo up' – Could Irish Point be Champion Hurdle bound?

With defending champion Constitution Hill's participation firmly up the air following yesterday's below-par racecourse gallop, Irish Point could be set for a drop back in trip according to his owner's racing manager Robbie Power.

IRISH POINT Picture: Healy Racing

The Unibet Champion Hurdle market was thrown up in the air yesterday when Constitution Hill, a general 1/4 shot to defend his crown, scoped badly after a racecourse gallop at Kempton. Leaving the question, would those with other targets look at a late switch in order to have a crack at the championship event should Nicky Henderson's stable star be ruled out in the coming days?

One horse in question, Irish Point could be set for a sizeable drop back in trip following yesterday's news. The Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old seemingly relished the step up to three miles for the first time when landing the Grade 1 Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown in December, a performance that makes the Robcour-owned grey a current 3/1 chance for the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle at the Festival in a fortnight's time.

However, with owners, Robcour also expected to saddle 11/4 market leader Teahupoo in the three-mile Thursday feature, Irish Point may find himself lining up two days earlier in the Champion Hurdle.

"Irish Point holds an entry in the Stayers' Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle, so I suppose we'll have to have a sit-down and talk if Constitution Hill is not going there," explained former Cheltenham Festival-winning rider and Robcour's racing manager Robbie Power on Nick Luck Daily Podcast.

He added: "It would be nice to split him and Teahupoo up, so we'll definitely have a discussion about whether we'd send Irish Point to the Champion Hurdle if Constitution Hill doesn't run."

The same owners enjoyed Festival success when Bob Olinger landed the Turners Novices' Chase two years ago and although the son of Sholokhov, who has since largely been campaigned over hurdles and chased home State Man in the Irish Champion Hurdle earlier this month, could have been supplemented should connections wish to, Power was quick to dismiss the idea.

Power said: "Bob Olinger was very impressive when he won the Relkeel Hurdle, and the plan has always been Aintree for him. He's had a little break since the Dublin Racing Festival, and he definitely won't be supplemented. He wouldn't be ready for the Champion Hurdle."

Whilst the deflection of Constitution Hill would certainly enhance the chance of Irish Point turning up in the Champion Hurdle, Robbie Power did not rule out his charge taking on Henderson's star should the grown come up testing on the opening day.

"I suppose if the ground was very soft on the first day of Cheltenham there would be a possibility (of running in the Champion Hurdle)," explained Power.

"When you've got two horses (Teahupoo and Irish Point) as good as them, you try and split them up if you can. We'll have a think about it I suppose after the piece of work that everybody saw yesterday if ever there's a time to take on Constitution Hill this is probably it. We'll have to see but I'd probably have full faith in Nicky Henderson that he can probably get him back as well. We'll see what happens over the next ten days or so."

Irish Point can be backed at 6/1 with Paddy Power in their non-runner money-back market.

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