Big mover State Man is Leopardstown’s hurdler to watch

State Man is the favourite to win the Matheson Hurdle and become Constitution Hill’s biggest rival for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The 8/11 favourite for today’s Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown (14.20) is last season’s comfortable Country Hurdle winner State Man.

The Willie Mullins trained five-year-old took the step into open company in his stride when running out an emphatic winner of the Morgiana at Punchestown last month, beating Sharjah (6/1 for the Matheson) by four-lengths.

Sharjah, bidding to become the first five-time winner of the December Festival Hurdle (Matheson under current title sponsorship), wasn’t at his absolute best that day but at nine years old, Sharjah’s younger stablemate State Man, who has won his last four races, is getting stronger and stronger and most definitely the one to watch.

Should he win the high-quality Matheson renewal, his odds for the Champion Hurdle will no doubt be shorter post-race, so if you fancy him for Cheltenham back him now, as the each-way price for him will evaporate if successful here.

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