Champion Hurdle 2022 Entries: Honeysuckle heads list of 23 entered for day one feature at Cheltenham
Reigning Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle heads a list of 23 horses entered for the 2022 running on March 15, and the unbeaten Henry De Bromhead-trained starlet is currently a red-hot odds-on favourite to retain her crown on day one of the Cheltenham Festival. We take a look at the full entry list for the Grade 1 showpiece here...
A rampant six-and-a-half length winner of the 2021 Champion Hurdle, Honeysuckle has maintained her dominance over timber this season, as she was a facile eight length winner of the Grade 1 Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in late November to extend her unblemished record to 13 wins from 13 races.
The smooth travelling eight-year-old oozes class throughout her races, and with Rachael Blackmore at her best on board the winning machine then the pair are sure to be a tough duo to beat in this year's Champion Hurdle, but there will be some classy performers aiming to down the Irish raider.
Former winner Epatante could be one of the leading British protagonists and Nicky Henderson's mare produced a fine display en route to glory in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, but she will need a career best to get the better of Honeysuckle. Henderson has also entered dual winner Buveur D'Air, who could look to roll back the years and claim Grade 1 glory at the festival and win a hat-trick of Champion Hurdles.
Willie Mullins will have a strong representation and multiple Grade 1 winner Sharjah has finished runner-up in the last two renewals of the Champion Hurdle, and will be desperate to try and go one better. Last seen bounding to glory in the Matheson Hurdle for the fourth time at Leopardstown, the ultra-consistent Closutton raider adds notable depth to the race, but will find it tough. An intriguing entry from the Mullins yard is last year's impressive Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Appreciate It, who was destined for a campaign over fences, but the Mullins team look set to keep him over hurdles this season, and he's not been seen since March.
Sent off an 11/8 favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at last year's Cheltenham Festival, Gordon Elliott's Zanahiyr could only finish fourth behind Quilixios (also entered for Champion Hurdle), but the Cullentra House raider has shown signs of improvement this season, and is another notable Irish entry. Second to Sharjah in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November, he then got a lot closer to that same contender in the Matheson, as he was just beaten a neck by the Mullins star. So, locking horns again with Sharjah, Zanahiyr will fancy getting the better of him this time around, but still will face a gargantuan task to down the reigning champion, Honeysuckle.
Elliott will not only be represented by Zanahiyr, but recent Grade 2 Limerick Hurdle winner Teahupoo features among the 23-strong list of entries, as does Abacadabras, who also holds an entry in the Stayers' Hurdle.
Other eye-catching entries include Gary Moore's Goshen, David Pipe's Greatwood Hurdle runner-up Adagio and the Cheltenham regular Song For Someone.