Honeysuckle proved her class earlier this year with a dominant display in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The mare prevailed by seven lengths in a strong field which included the 2020 winner Epatante.
The defending champion is set to appear at the Festival again in March, where she will be bidding to do it all over again in the premier hurdles contest in jump racing. On the evidence of her opening run of the season, she is going to take some beating.
Henry De Bromhead’s runner returned to action in the Grade One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle. She travelled strongly throughout that race at Fairyhouse before scoring by eight lengths.
Honeysuckle is now odds-on at 4/5 if you are looking to bet on horse racing for the 2021 Champion Hurdle. It is going to take a tremendous performance to beat the mare, as she has proved on multiple occasions she is the leading 2m hurdler in the UK and Ireland.
The Champion Hurdle winner is likely to be popular in today’s horse racing tips for the Matheson Hurdle over the Festive period. The Grade One contest at Leopardstown is set to be her next assignment. It could be her penultimate outing before her trip to Cheltenham.
100% Record Remains in Her Career
After 13 starts under Rules and an appearance in a point-to-point, Honeysuckle has yet to suffer defeat. She made her debut in a points race at Dromahane in April 2018. Later that year, she appeared for the first time under Rules, winning at Fairyhouse in a maiden hurdle over 2m4f.
Honeysuckle’s opening Grade One success came in the Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse in April 2019. The following season she was victorious in three Grade One contests, with wins coming in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, Irish Champion Hurdle and Mares’ Hurdle, the latter coming at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.
Last season, the Irish horse won all four of her assignments. She defended her crowd in the Irish Champion Hurdle and then ended her campaign with another win at the top level at the Punchestown Festival.
Familiar Rivals Set to Tackle Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle is familiar with the majority of the rivals she will face in the Champion Hurdle next year. The biggest challenger to her, according to the betting, is Sharjah. He finished behind the mare three times last season.
Willie Mullins’ hurdler has made a strong start to the 2021/22 campaign. He scored in the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, beating a field that included Zanahiyr and Echoes In Rain.
Sharjah chased home Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle in 2021. If he is to reverse the form with the unbeaten mare, he is going to need to improve again this season.
2020 winner Epatante is also set to have another shot at the 2m hurdles contest on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. Nicky Henderson’s runner finished in a dead heat for first place in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on her seasonal reappearance. The seven-year-old mare was over nine lengths behind Honeysuckle last March so she has to produce more at Cheltenham.
Next year’s Champion Hurdle takes place on the 15th March and it will be the 92nd running of the race.