Connections to the star mare Honeysuckle and trainer Henry De Bromhead have decided that the unbeaten six year old will head the Grade One Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival instead of the Champion Hurdle.
Honeysuckle has a been a star for the yard over the last two years and on all three her starts this season has been pretty much faultless by winning twice at Fairyhouse including in the Grade One Hatton's Grace Hurdle and last time out she narrowly stayed on to take the Irish Champion Hurdle.
She took on her biggest challenge last weekend when put on a left handed track for the first time in two years having last raced that way round in her point to point days and also dropping slightly in trip she looked up against it.
However she managed to prevail but when jumping the last did not lengthen away and with 50 yards to go just did enough to take the Grade One.
Her trainer put her into the contest to see if she has the pace to match it with some of the best around in the two mile hurdling division and it was sure to locate what race she heads to at the Cheltenham festival.
In the aftermath of the race the picture was still very blurry but it has now been revealed the Honeysuckle team are favouring the Mares Hurdle over the Champion Hurdle.
In her seven starts she has not seen one rival pass her and the clash with Benie Des Dieux sets up one of the best battles at the festival this season if both officially head to the contest.
Peter Molony, who purchased Honeysuckle for €110,000 after landing a decent point to point in April 2018 that saw her beat Annie Mc by 15 length who has gone on to big things in England.
(Credit Racing Post) Molony acts as racing manager to Alexander and said: “Nothing is set in stone but we’re still leaning towards the Mares’ Hurdle with Honeysuckle.
“The main reason is that two and a half miles is her optimum trip. She’s top-class over two and a half miles and we want to do what’s best for the mare at Cheltenham.”
With the Champion Hurdle field being one of the most mind boggling for some time it is a surprise not to see the mare have a crack at the contest but with De Bromhead's star being backed into 6/4 for the Mares it looks settled where she is heading.
Molony added: “Obviously there's a big temptation to go for the Champion Hurdle with Honeysuckle. It looks an open year and, of course, you have to take into account the frightening spectre of Benie Des Dieux in the Mares’ Hurdle.
“If Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux do meet in the Mares’ it could well be the race of the whole week.”