Champion Hurdle 2022: Honeysuckle heads 10 entries for day one feature

Henry De Bromhead's Honeysuckle is a hot favourite for the Champion Hurdle.
Henry De Bromhead's Honeysuckle is a hot favourite for the Champion Hurdle.

Henry De Bromhead's superstar mare Honeysuckle tops a field of 10 entries received for the 2022 Champion Hurdle, as the Irish starlet aims to retain the Grade 1 Championship crown she won in emphatic style last season...

Unbeaten in her 14 starts, Honeysuckle has become one of the stars of the National Hunt division in recent times, and on March 15 she will attempt to be victorious at the festival for a third time, as having won the 2020 Mares' Hurdle, she then produced a sparkling career best to win the 2021 Champion Hurdle by over six lengths.

Last seen retaining her Irish Champion Hurdle crown, Honeysuckle will head to day one of the Cheltenham Festival as the red-hot odds-on favourite for the Tuesday showpiece, but the mare will face some lively opposition, and the betting suggests her main danger could be the Willie Mullins-trained Appreciate It, who is set to make his comeback.

A runaway winner of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at last season's Cheltenham Festival, the Closutton inmate hasn't been seen on a track since that sparkling success, but if he can build on his novice success at Prestbury Park then he has to be a lively rival to the market leader. Mullins could be doubly represented in the Champion Hurdle, as he has entered the classy Saint Roi, who will be aiming to turn around the Irish Champion Hurdle form, as he could only finish fourth to Honeysuckle at Leopardstown in February.

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Gordon Elliott is yet to taste victory in the Champion Hurdle, but he will unleash a strong dual-pronged attack with Teahupoo and Zanahiyr both representing the Cullentra House team. The former has won all three of his races this season impressively, and was last seen romping to victory in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park, and being only five years old he has the potential for more improvement. Fourth in last year's Triumph Hurdle when sent off favourite, Zanahiyr may not have reached the heights expected of him over timber, but he's ran some fine races in defeat this term finishing second in the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle, Matheson Hurdle and Irish Champion Hurdle, so is of interest.

Former winner Epatante will fly the flag for the British and Nicky Henderson's star mare will be looking to recapture the form that saw her reign in the 2020 running of the race, while the recent Kingwell Hurdle runner-up Adagio will take his chance for David Pipe, and having finished second in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham off top weight earlier in the season, the Pond House inmate is another leading player.

Of the others, Ann Hamilton's Tommy's Oscar has been a revelation this season, and warmed up for this with a win in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock Park, while the likes of Betfair Hurdle hero Glory And Fortune and Hughie Morrison's Not So Sleepy add depth to the race and complete the 10-strong field.

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