Honeysuckle may go off the shortest value since Istabraq received the final of his three titles in 2000 when she defends her Unibet Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham on Tuesday.
Aidan O’Brien’s legendary performer was 8/15 when finishing his big-race hat-trick. Honeysuckle is 8/13 with many bookmakers which is a shade shorter than Buveur D’Air, who was 4/6 when successful for a second time in 2018.
Henry de Bromhead’s mare is unbeaten in 14 begins underneath guidelines, along with her 10 Grade One victories together with three Irish Champion Hurdles and final yr’s success within the Cheltenham characteristic.
“I suppose on rankings it presumably is her greatest check to this point, however it’s as you’d anticipate this race to be. It is actually aggressive and there is some nice horses in there – very similar to final yr,” stated De Bromhead.
“I have been instructed that Honeysuckle may go off because the shortest-priced Champion Hurdle favorite this century, however I had no concept. It is in all probability extra strain in that in fact you need her to win, however it’s like with any of them, you need them to run their finest race.
“It might be unbelievable stuff if she may win once more – there’s not many that may win two Champion Hurdles, so it will be unbelievable. Her unbeaten run is wonderful however all we will do is get her there in addition to we presumably can after which hope we’ve got a little bit of luck, and that all of it goes effectively.”
Epatante, winner in 2020, bids to emulate Hurricane Fly, in 2011 and 2013, by regaining her crown.
Nicky Henderson’s cost was third to Honeysuckle in each Cheltenham and Punchestown Champion Hurdles final spring however has completed nothing incorrect in her two begins this winter, dead-heating for first place within the Combating Fifth and successful the Christmas Hurdle outright.
“We set off firstly of the season and JP (McManus, proprietor) stated we’ve got two aims this yr – the Combating Fifth and the Christmas Hurdle. That’s what we wished and we almost received it. We received one and a half which was nice,” stated Henderson.
“I believed at Kempton she was nice and she or he actually did appear like her previous self. She was hurdling like she at all times used to and tanked Nico (de Boinville, jockey) into the race. She does not usually go on that early however she was all for getting dwelling and getting again to mattress, and she or he was off.
“We have nonetheless received one huge drawback in entrance of us (Honeysuckle). She has regarded excellent and she or he might be very exhausting to beat, however I do suppose we’re at the least again the place we had been (with Epatante) when she received her Champion Hurdle. That may not have been the strongest area on this planet and I am the primary to confess that.”
Respect It has not run since taking the Supreme 12 months in the past however coach Willie Mullins feels the eight-year-old has a “huge likelihood”.
“He was going chasing, however then he received injured and we stated we could not break his novice this late within the season. It was a reasonably straightforward choice to return hurdling after that,” stated the Closutton coach.
“Respect It loves the observe – he went effectively there final yr. I am pleased he’ll go there with a giant likelihood.
“He is a robust horse. I do know we have not had a run, however we have completed that earlier than.
“I would say we’ve got a very good report for doing that (working effectively first day out on the Pageant), however I do not know whether or not we have completed it for the Champion Hurdle.
“It is all to play for I feel, however we’ve got a giant hurdle to leap (in Honeysuckle).”
Gordon Elliott is pleased to run each Zanahiyr and Teahupoo regardless of having the utmost respect for Honeysuckle.
“I feel the observe will go well with Zanahiyr and we’ll put cheekpieces on, not as a result of he is ungenuine however to assist him early within the race as a result of he is a bit behind the bridle,” he stated.
“Honeysuckle has been superior the final couple of years and there is in all probability not an individual in racing that would not like to see her win. My horse is in good type, he has six and a half lengths to seek out from Leopardstown, however I feel the observe will go well with him higher, Nonetheless, she seems to be excellent. I feel he is received a very good each-way likelihood.
“Teahupoo will take his likelihood. He is bettering and it is form of exhausting to know what he has as he does not present a lot at dwelling, however when he goes to the observe, he retains bettering. We do not understand how good he’s to be sincere.”
Tommy’s Oscar has been a revelation for coach Ann Hamilton and her husband Ian, who owns the seven-year-old, successful his final 4 races. Although he’s undoubtedly progressive, he faces by far his hardest check thus far.
“He labored on Tuesday final week and it did the job. Then we schooled him on Wednesday, and he was sensible. To be sincere, I used to be eager to go to the Morebattle Hurdle myself, because it’s simply up the highway and it was a £100,000 race,” stated Ian Hamilton.
“Brian Hughes and everybody else has been telling us that it is not fairly often that you’ve got a horse adequate to go to Cheltenham, so we have got to go for it. He was impressed with him the opposite evening when he labored with him and he stated he felt good – so for him to say that he have to be all proper, as a result of he is fairly modest.
“I do not suppose he is crushed a top-class horse but, however he is bettering so that you simply do not know. He hasn’t crushed a Champion Hurdle horse, however he hasn’t confronted one but, so we’ll see. Hopefully he does it on Tuesday!
“He is bettering on a regular basis and when he received the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock, I noticed a comparability with the novices’ race that Jonbon received. He was a very good few seconds sooner, so it was a very good time for the bottom.
“He is only a bit nervy, so it’s going to be whether or not he is capable of deal with the Cheltenham crowd on the day. He is received a hood for the parade ring after which we’ll take it off after which he ought to be OK within the race itself.”