By Tom Lee

Champion Hurdle Tips: Honeysuckle and Goshen to fight it out for glory

By Tom Lee
Champion Hurdle Tips: Unbeaten Honeysuckle is fancied to land Cheltenham glory.
Champion Hurdle Tips: Unbeaten Honeysuckle is fancied to land Cheltenham glory.

Tom Lee picks out his Champion Hurdle tip, as Epatante, Honeysuckle and Goshen are set for an epic battle at the Cheltenham Festival...

Tom's Champion Hurdle Tip

Honeysuckle at 9/4 with bet365

The day one highlight has more than a bit to recommend it this time around, as two mega talented mares rub shoulders with a five-year-old speedball and a cluster of each way angles from Ireland, all hoping to see their name engraved on the Champion Hurdle trophy.

Excited? You should be. 

Due off at 15:05 on Tuesday afternoon, there'll be no hiding place in a race which in recent years has given us memorable performances from greats such as Hurricane Fly, Faugheen and Annie Power.  

Who is it to be this time around?

Last year's winner Epatante needs to be taken very seriously indeed, and as a mare is in receipt of seven pounds from the majority of her rivals. She was dominant when putting this race to bed by three lengths a year ago, but her most recent piece of form is far less encouraging, trailing in more than six lengths adrift of the re-opposing Silver Streak when sent off at 1/5 in the Christmas Hurdle. 

One swallow doesn't make a summer, and her trainer Nicky Henderson has provided the winner of this great prize on no less than eight occasions, but nonetheless it was a blip from which she'll have to re-emerge to land this once again, though encouragingly stablemate Buveur D'Air did land back-to-back runnings when victorious in 2017 and 2018.

Cheltenham Festival Tips

Coming so soon after International Women's Day, it makes sense at this stage to deal with the other leading female protagonist, namely the admirable, unbeaten, tough as old boots Honeysuckle.

As hard as they come and indeed yet to be beaten in 10 starts under rules, she is already a six time Grade 1 scorer, including her 9/4 victory in the Mares' Hurdle at this fixture 12 months ago. 

A daughter of Sulamani, she has struck up a superb partnership with pilot Rachael Blackmore, with the pair seen to devastating effect last time out, surging clear to land the Irish Champion by 10 lengths in early February. 

Mares won the Champion Hurdle twice in the last five runnings, and in Honeysuckle you get a fair bit for your cash, namely a yet to be defeated, sturdy, robust, course winner, in the form of her life and in receipt of weight from the boys.

Of those boys, there are each way arguments to be fashioned for the likes of Abacadabras (second to Honeysuckle last month), Sharjah (runner up behind Epatante a year ago) and Silver Streak ('twas he who shot down Epatante in the Christmas Hurdle.

However, of the 'boys', the one I'd love to see run a mighty race is last year's Triumph Hurdle hard luck story, Goshen.

Nursed back to rude health after some tame efforts on the Flat plus a disaster at Cheltenham in the International Hurdle, he was back to his old self when rampant in Wincanton's Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle last time out.

He's a credit to the Moore family down on the south coast, father and son team Gary and jockey Jamie, who famously exited the saddle with the Triumph Hurdle at his mercy 12 months ago, an incident which had nothing but sheer misfortune written through it like a stick of rock. 

Victory for Goshen would be one of the great tales of sporting redemption, but don't forget the stats are against this super fast five-year-old. 

The ill fated Espoir D'Allen was a rare five year old to land this prize two years ago, but overall the record books highlight the scarcity and difficulty for the younger horses - two five years old claimed the Champion Hurdle crown during the last 34 runnings - from 105 who tried!

In summary ahead of what promises to be a thriller, the heart says Goshen, the head and wallet say otherwise, Honeysuckle.

15:05 Tue - Champion Hurdle
Honeysuckle silk


Cheltenham Festival Races
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