Honeysuckle Will Line Up with No More Than Nine Rivals in the Champion Hurdle
Defending champion Honeysuckle will go up against no more than nine rivals in Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle, following confirmation of the runners for the opening day of the festival.
While the field is small, the competition is set to be fierce, with rivals including the impressive Appreciate It vying for the title. We take a look at the notable absentees and those who’ll be lining up come Tuesday 15th March.
If you’re wondering which horse is most likely to walk away with the Champion Hurdle title less than a week from today, the answer is unclear. Honeysuckle is, of course, a strong contender, being last year’s champion, but she also has some fierce rivals who are eager to defeat her second time around.
These include her nearest market rival, Appreciate It, along with two previous victors in the form of Epatante and Adagio. Teahupoo has also proven impressive in recent outings. What this means is there’s no surefire winner ahead of the race.
Betting on the outcome is almost as popular as watching it, and many will be studying Honeysuckle and her competitors' strengths and weaknesses while searching out the best Cheltenham offers available once a decision is made on who they're backing.
Sports brands are clearly aware of this, as there are plenty of online betting sites and bookmakers like Boyle Sports and William Hill out there offering highly competitive odds for this year’s much-anticipated contest. But which backed horse will come out on top?
However, it’s not only the impending on-track action that’s causing a stir; many have also been left wondering at some notable withdrawals. These include Triumph Hurdle winner Quilixios, who’s been removed from the race alongside Tritonic and Monmiral.
The top four-year-old Pied Piper has also been scratched, along with Colonel Mustard and Classic Getaway. That means the horses who'll now be lining up on race day include:
One of the Greatest Mares of All Time
Irrespective of the field she’ll face and how fierce the competition is, Honeysuckle remains the one to watch. While triumph isn’t – and can never be – certain, this is a mare who’s wowed over and over again.
Last claiming victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle, where she finished more than six lengths ahead of Zanahiyr, she’s currently on a 14-straight winning streak, leading many commentators to label her one of the greatest mares of all time.
Indeed, while we wouldn’t feel confident in suggesting a clear winner – let alone one who would do it in such style – there are those in the know who recommend not only betting on Honeysuckle to win but wagering on her to do so by several lengths.
When it comes to the Cheltenham Festival – specifically, the Champion Hurdle - there’s only one thing we believe you can say for certain, and that’s that any one of the runners could triumph. With so much wonderful on-track talent on display, the race is sure to be fierce, fast, and fantastic to watch.