Can Honeysuckle Land Back to Back Champion Hurdle Titles?
The Irish-trained mare Honeysuckle is undoubtedly one of the most popular horses in training. After switching from the Mares Hurdle to the Champion Hurdle last season, she won in great style to further enhance her reputation at the top of the game.
The strength of her success in 2021 is reflected by her current odds for 2022, with the latest horse racing betting markets showing that she is already priced at odds of 8/11 to win the 2022 Champion Hurdle.
The way in which she dominated the race in 2021 was very impressive, and the field going up against her in 2022 appears to be very similar to that. Her ability, plus the lack of genuine challengers to her crown has forced her price to contract this season, even more so when she won the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in great fashion.
Perhaps the biggest positive that we have surrounding Honeysuckle is that we have not really seen her challenged by another horse strongly for some time now. She has been impressing us all with her performances, and there is a chance that she has even more in reserve if she ever needs to use it.
Who are the Main Contenders?
The biggest danger to Honeysuckle could well be a horse stepping up from novice company. The horse in question is Appreciate It, currently the 8/1 joint-second favourite to win the Champion Hurdle. There was talk about whether this horse would stay over hurdles or go chasing and head to the Arkle, but hurdles are the confirmed plan now.
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 16, 2021
He was very impressive when winning the Supreme, though questions around the form of that race have cast a little doubt on the performance. Having said that, he certainly looks in the mix for the Champion Hurdle and can give a good account of himself for the Willie Mullins team.
Mullins also trains the other joint-second favourite for the race in Sharjah. He’s been a superstar for Mullins but has never been able to get it done at Cheltenham, and while he will have his supporters when it comes to landing-place money and each-way bets, actually winning the race is likely to be a step too far for him.
Epatante is the only other running currently priced up in single figures by bookmakers, she was a brilliant Champion Hurdle winner in 2020 but failed to fire last season and is on something of a redemption mission to get her crown back. Of course, should she do that, we would be left with an excellent battle between two top-quality mares which would be great for racing, though she does still have something to prove before we get excited.
As the countdown to the 2022 Champion Hurdle continues, Honeysuckle is at the head of the betting market, and unless something changes between now and race day, she is highly likely to be sent off odds on to win the race again.