Honeysuckle team favour Champion
Connections of dual Irish Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle have intimated there is only "one option" for the mare at the Cheltenham Festival.After Henry de Bromhead's charge scrambled home from Darver Star 12 months ago, there were long debates over whether she should revert to her own sex at Cheltenham or take on the boys in […]


Connections of dual Irish Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle have intimated there is only "one option" for the mare at the Cheltenham Festival.After Henry de Bromhead's charge scrambled home from Darver Star 12 months ago, there were long debates over whether she should revert to her own sex at Cheltenham or take on the boys in the big one. Connections eventually opted to tackle the top-class Benie Des Dieux in the Mares' Hurdle, in which she maintained her unbeaten record.After demolishing what looked a stronger field in the Irish Champion this year, though, she looks likely to run in the Unibet Champion Hurdle and is challenging another mare, last year's winner Epatante, for favouritism."I couldn't believe how confident Henry was during the week - he's normally so cautious," said Peter Molony, racing manager for owner Kenny Alexander. "She's only seven and she's still improving. We'd explained why she blew up in the Hatton's Grace, she got very tired. "She's very versatile, you can put her anywhere in a race. She can quicken off a fast pace, quicken off a slow pace, she stays very well - she's so uncomplicated. Other horses need things to go their way, but it all seems to come alike to her - she's an absolute dream. "We know she's a strong stayer, so that's another tick. Hopefully she gets there in one piece now. Henry has done an unbelievable job with her."I was interviewed on RTE after the race and I was going to drop a bombshell that she was going for the mares' hurdle just for a laugh, but I thought better of it - there's only one option now, I think."Rachael Blackmore has been on board for all 10 of Honeysuckle's wins under Rules and she felt Saturday was a career-best display."She came out of her shell a little bit yesterday," Blackmore told Racing TV's Luck On Sunday."She's never done anything wrong up to this point, so I was confident going into the race, but she really showed us what she was made of yesterday."She's always delivered. As a jockey you ask her for her more and she's never not done that, but yesterday between the fourth and the third last she took the bit in her own mouth and went herself."That's a magic feeling when you can sit against them, not disappoint them and let them go forward."She's been very well trained and she was very good yesterday. I can't pinpoint where the dramatic improvement came from, but she's won every race we've asked her to, so we can't fault her any other day."She felt incredible, she really did. The ground was a little slower than last year which was a help (to her jumping), but you'd have to be pleased in that department as well."You feel very special to have come across something like her in your career."
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