There’s no prizes for guessing the star attraction on day
four of the Punchestown Festival, writes Bradley West.
It feels like we’ve run out of superlatives for star mare
Honeysuckle, who is unbeaten following 11 Rules races and who soared to
Champion Hurdle glory at Cheltenham last month.
She heads to Punchestown for the first time in her career
with the world seemingly at her feet, as she bids to add another Grade One
victory to her resume in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.
Her future plans, principally a potential switch to chasing,
remain uncertain but what is for sure is how many will be willing this world-beater
on come 5.25pm.
“She's been really good since Cheltenham,” De Bromhead said.
“We've just kept her ticking along since then. We're looking
forward to seeing how she gets on again.”
How do you stop a mare like Honeysuckle? Especially one who
has combined so famously with woman of the moment Rachael Blackmore.
That will be the question on the minds of all her rivals
with Nicky Henderson’s Epatante chief among them.
Henderson won the last running of this race with Buveur
d'Air in 2019 but the 2020 Champion Hurdle winner will have her work cut out
doubling up here.
Epatante finished almost ten lengths behind Honeysuckle at
Cheltenham, but confidence is high in camp that an upset can be caused.
And as if that wasn’t enough of an incentive, sponsors Paddy
Power have offered £100,000 to any British-trained winner!
“She's in good form, she's gone very well since Cheltenham
and she'll love the ground,” Henderson said.
“She's still got Honeysuckle in the way but we'll try and
give her a race this time.”
Willie Mullins, who has dominated the festival so far,
provides further opposition in the former of Sharjah while Gary Moore’s Goshen
and Denise Foster’s Abacadabras could also be in the mix.