Honeysuckle installed as clear favourite to defend Champion Hurdle crown


The superstar mare is looking to continue her unbeaten run

Tuesday, January 11, 2022
HoneysuckleCheltenhamentries

Rachael Blackmore celebrates her Unibet Champion Hurdle victory on board Honeysuckle in 2021


Henry de Bromhead’s superstar mare Honeysuckle has been installed as the odds-on favourite to defend her Unibet Champion Hurdle crown after being named as one of 23 entries for the opening day showpiece at Cheltenham.

The unbeaten eight-year-old won the contest by six-and-a-half lengths last year, providing the first of Rachael Blackmore’s six wins over the course of an unforgettable week as she became the first female leading jockey in the Festival’s history.

Blackmore has been in the saddle for all 13 of Honeysuckle’s victories under rules, the most recent of which came at the BARONERACING.COM Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November, though the chasing pack is led by last year’s Champion Hurdle runner-up Sharjah for Willie Mullins.

 

Appreciate It, who has not raced since a dominant 21-length victory in the 2021 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, is another Closutton contender who looks well placed to challenge while Zanahiyr and Teahupoo are among Gordon Elliott’s entries.

Gavin Cromwell and Noel Meade have entered My Mate Mozzie and Cask Mate respectively, with over half of the 23 entries trained in Ireland.

The English challenge is set to be led by Nicky Henderson’s Epatante, third last year, while stablemate Buveur D’Air is seeking a third Champion Hurdle having won in 2017 and 2018.

Mullins holds the ante-post favourite in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle in Klassical Dream, with Burning Victory, Asterion Forlonge and Melon among the reigning Irish champion trainer’s other entries.

Reigning Stayers champion Flooring Porter, who provided Festival glory for Cromwell and Danny Mullins last March, is also well fancied having been beaten only by Klassical Dream in the Dornan Engineering Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown a fortnight ago.

 

Two-time Festival winner Sire Du Berlais is among Elliott’s entries while Peter Fahey has put forward Royal Kahala.

Telmesomethinggirl, who won the Mares’ Hurdle in 2021, will bid to retain her crown for De Bromhead and Blackmore this time around in a race which has attracted eight Mullins entries including Stormy Ireland.

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