The dust has barely settled on Honeysuckle justifying short Champion Hurdle odds and retaining her Cheltenham crown, but thoughts already turn to the future. Come next year’s Festival, the landscape may well look quite different.
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All Champion Hurdle odds correct as of 16:00 GMT on Friday, 18 March 2022 but subject to change
Honeysuckle Not Favourite in Champion Hurdle Odds
A dominant force over hurdles, if Honeysuckle remains in horse racing for another season completing a Champion Hurdle hat-trick is an obvious target. Trainer Henry De Bromhead has a well mapped out plan for Kenny Alexander’s wonder mare too.
Honeysuckle usually runs in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse over 2m 4f, then drops back in trip for the Irish Champion Hurdle during the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. It has worked en route to three Cheltenham Festival successes already, if including her 2020 Mares Hurdle victory.
Yet Honeysuckle is only 3/1 second-favourite in the 2023 Champion Hurdle odds behind Constitution Hill. He routed a classy field in the Supreme Novices Hurdle in the first of Cheltenham day 1 results over the same course and distance as the big race. Nicky Henderson’s horse heads the betting at 5/2.
That is a clash to savour but it’s worth remembering that Honeysuckle beat an impressive winner of the Cheltenham Festival opener in Appreciate It easily. The step out of novice company isn’t always straightforward. Constitution Hill has the scope for plenty of further progress, however.
More Mullins mounts will come again
Willie Mullins may have been thwarted with Appreciate It when looking back on the Cheltenham results from 2022 but he will still have something to put against Honeysuckle. We’ll never know whether Dysart Dynamo would’ve give Constitution Hill a race. He took a heavy fall at the third last in the Supreme when still going easily.
Vauban showed his class on Gold Cup day when taking the Triumph Hurdle with the first five home all Irish. He will be five come the Champion Hurdle and, although that age bracket of horse traditionally struggles, he still has tons of scope for further progress.
Sir Gerhard looked all class when landing the Ballymore Novices Hurdle on rain softened ground to kick off day two of the Festival. These Mullins mounts, if remaining over hurdles, could be credible challengers to the top two in the Champion Hurdle odds are this very early stage.
Leading online bookies 888Sport agree. Sir Gerhard is 7/1 with that firm, the same price as Vauban, while Dysart Dynamo is 20/1 but both retain huge potential. Although the former has won over further, that didn’t stop Mullins dropping Faugheen back in trip to land the Champion Hurdle.
There are plenty of decisions to take over the summer. Some horses, tired of being beaten by Honeysuckle, will switch to fences. Those who don’t go novice chasing still have to try and figure out a way to beat her and the Champion Hurdle odds, though.