Honeysuckle put in a valiant performance and ran her heart out when finishing second to State Man in the Irish Champion Hurdle on Sunday. The wonder-mare lost absolutely nothing in defeat and she retains her status as one of the sport’s most beloved horses. A lot has been said about where she should go next but her Cheltenham Festival target has been revealed. Check out our free tips page for daily content across British and Irish racing.
Kenny Alexander is Honeysuckle’s owner but he didn’t want to make any rash decisions when interviewed on Sunday. Alexander’s racing manager Peter Molony has revealed that her target will be the Mares’ Hurdle. Molony said on Twitter: “One last hurrah for Honeysuckle! Barring accidents, injury, illness or extremes of ground, she will be prepared for another tilt at the Mares’ Hurdle.”
I for one can see the sense in this decision as she has the chance to win at a fourth consecutive Cheltenham Festival, an amazing feat. She seems to have lost a yard of pace which makes it hard for her to compete at the very top over the minimum trip. With no Constitution Hill or State Man in the mares’ race, victory is much more achievable.
These sentiments were echoed by Molony, who added: “We think, and most people agree, that she has definitely taken a bit of a step back this year and Kenny would like to give her one last hurrah, and in doing so give her the best possible chance of being competitive.”
Many would like to see her defend her crown in the Champion Hurdle next month and there’s certainly some logic to that argument. From connections’ perspective however, you can see that choosing the race she’s most likely to win is wise. Barring accidents, the best she can hope for in the Champion Hurdle is third so the idea of winning the Mares’ Hurdle for the second time must be very appealing.
Honeysuckle @ 9-4 with William Hill (Mares’ Hurdle)
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