Irish Champion Hurdle Guide 2022

Leopardstown - February 06 2022
Leopardstown 15:00
5
Rachael Blackmore

Honeysuckle

J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 8
Weight: 11-5
OR: 165
Days: 70

National Hunts leading mare, with one of the most formidable unbeaten records in racing, looks set to take this race for the third consecutive year.

Last year’s Champion Hurdle heroine comes into this race with her unbeaten record at stake once more and holds leading claims given she faces off against horses she has beaten with ease in the past.

She was electric on her seasonal debut in November, winning by 8 lengths with some top-quality horses in behind, she still looks to be continuously improving with each passing season.

She didn’t exactly jump with her usual zest last time out, however with a few of her rivals lacking the same fluency, her engine still allowed her to prove the best in the field.

Henry De Bromhead's mare is a two-time winner of this race previously and this year looks to be a slightly easier renewal than previous ones.

The 2021 Champion Hurdle winner looks like she will be very hard to beat in this contest again and a hat-trick is looking a strong possibility.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
05/02/23LEO16Y11-52
04/12/22FAI19.5Sft11-33
29/04/22PUN16Gd/Y11-51
15/03/22CHL16.5GS11-31
06/02/22LEO16Y11-51
Leopardstown - February 06 2022
Leopardstown 15:00
2
Jack Kennedy

Zanahiyr

J:
 
Jack Kennedy
T:
 
Gordon Elliott
Age: 5
Weight: 11-12
OR: 159
Days: 39

Gordon Elliot’s only runner in the field is the youngest, but arguably the most experienced runner in the race - he has 12 runs to his name, winning 5 of them including two Grade 2 races.

He ran a blinder last time out in the Grade 1 Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown, just falling short to Sharjah by a neck, a race that Sharjah has won multiple times making him a formidable opponent.

Zanahiyr was held up at the rear of the field, making smooth headway mid-way through the race before mounting his challenge when going down the home straight, keeping on well only to just be beaten by the more experienced horse on the day - he ran with a lot of credit that day.

Having said this, he does have to give 7lbs away to Honeysuckle and on that evidence has it all to prove here.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
05/02/23LEO16Y11-125
28/12/22LEO24Sft11-10PU
13/11/22NAV20Y11-87
07/04/22AIN20GS11-7F
15/03/22CHL16.5GS11-103
Leopardstown - February 06 2022
Leopardstown 15:00
1
Mark Walsh

Saint Roi

J:
 
Mark Walsh
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 155
Days: 39

Willie Mullins charge looked to have so much potential a few seasons ago, winning the Grade 3 County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2020 by just over 4 lengths after a brilliant display of jumping.

He has only run five times since then, only winning once in a Grade 3 at Tipperary in October 2020.

He has been contesting in Grade 1 races since, placing on two occasions, just lacking that killer edge to win one at the highest level.

He can be a classy horse on his day, however just needs everything to fall in place.

Up against a top mare that he must concede 7lbs to, he will have to really step up his form to another level to win this.

Leopardstown - February 06 2022
Leopardstown 15:00
3
Paul Townend

Echoes In Rain

J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
Age: 6
Weight: 11-5
OR: 143
Days: 39

Another horse who had a stellar season last year is Echoes In Rain, winning four out of her six starts, including a Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown by just over 3 lengths; she also had Arkle favourite Blue Lord in behind that day.

She hasn’t been running in novice company this season, in fact she has ran in two Grade 1’s affairs however has slightly disappointed when going off fairly fancied for running a big race.

Sent off a 7/4 second favourite in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last November, she was well beaten by 15 lengths that day, with the re-opposing Zanahiyr 12 lengths clear in front.

She was once again in behind rivals Zanahiyr and Saint Roi in her last run in December, both horses 10 plus lengths in front.

Having said this, she was running at a time where the Willie Mullins horses weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders and we may see an upturn in her performances here.

She'll need to vastly improve to get on terms with the favourite.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
29/01/23NAA15.5Sft10-101
04/12/22FAI19.5Sft11-3F
25/09/22CUR16.5Y9-32
25/07/22GAL17Sft11-31
20/05/22CUR14Gd/Y9-72
Leopardstown - February 06 2022
Leopardstown 15:00
4
Danny Mullins

Heaven Help Us

J:
 
Danny Mullins
T:
 
Paul Hennessy
Age: 8
Weight: 11-5
OR: 140
Days: 39

The lowest rated horse in the field who, Heaven Help Us will also receive the 7lb mares’ allowance in this contest.

A Cheltenham Festival winner last season when landing the Grade 3 Coral Cup, she won by an easy 9 length margin, running away up the hill.

The slightly further trip may suit her best, as she looks to be a nice staying type in the making.

She finished a neck second behind Royal Kahala last time out in a Grade 3 over 2m4f, form that appears strong given that rival has since landed the Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle over 3 miles, beating Stayers Hurdle fancy Klassical Dream in the process.

She is a game mare who has won over 2 miles in the past however does shape like she is the better performer over further.

She is likely to be outclassed at this trip, especially against horses with the calibre of her opponents.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
19/11/22PUN18Y10-112
23/10/22LIM22.5Sft10-92
18/04/22FAI20Y10-105
15/03/22CHL20GS11-56
06/02/22LEO16Y11-55

Jake Russell | @JakeRuss1000