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Cheltenham Champion Hurdle: Honeysuckle hard to beat

A look at the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle

The feature on day one of the Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Hurdle, a blistering test of speed endurance over the smaller obstacles.  

Henry de Bromhead’s Honeysuckle blew away the opposition to claim the top prize in 2021 and Irish trained runners have won six of the last 10 renewals of this Cheltenham Champions Day contest.

She is one of the leading contenders for the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle once again as we look at who could win the 2022 edition.

Honeysuckle

The defending champion made it 11 races unbeaten when sprinting up the Cheltenham Hill in the spring.

She then completed the Champion Hurdle treble when adding the Punchestown trophy to her Irish and Cheltenham equivalents in late April.

Her Cheltenham Champion Hurdle success kickstarted a fantastic week for trainer De Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore, who both finished the Cheltenham Festival with six winners.

The fiery daughter of Sulamani is 7/4 to become the first back-to-back winner since Buveur D’Air in 2018 and 2019.

She has the division at her feet and is the one they all have to pass if they want to take her place on top spot.

Appreciate It

An emphatic winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2021, this future star is priced at 10/1 to take the Champion Hurdle crown in March 2022.

However, chasing appears to be on the agenda for the son of Jeremy and it may be worth seeing how he fares over fences before placing any wagers for the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle.

Sharjah

Second in the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle in the past two seasons, Willie Mullins’ eight-year-old is a standing dish in this contest and hopes to make it fourth time lucky in the opening day highlight.

Listed at 12/1 in the Champion Hurdle betting, he returned to win the Morgiana Hurdle for a second time at Punchestown recently.

He could struggle to achieve his ultimate ambition of dethroning Honeysuckle but you will struggle to find a more genuine horse in the line-up.

Sharjah pulls away to take the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle

Abacadabras

Far from the most straight forward of characters, Gordon Elliott’s 14/1 shot put it all together to claim the Aintree Hurdle in the spring.

A faller at the third flight in the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle in 2021, this quirky son of Davidoff has unfinished business at Prestbury Park and can’t be underestimated.

Epatante

The 2020 winner was left chasing Honeysuckle’s shadow when attempting to defend her title and has a bit to prove now, having been no match for De Bromhead’s superstar mare when they also clashed at Punchestown.

Nicky Henderson’s leading Champion Hurdle contender is likely to attempt to land back-to-back Fighting Fifth’s first up this term and that could give a good indication of how much fire remains in the 16/1 shot’s belly.

Monmiral

This unbeaten four-year-old proved he was the real deal when sauntering to a comfortable Grade 1 victory in Aintree’s Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle in the Spring.

Adagio was back in second on that occasion and gave the form a strong look when almost defying top-weight when finishing second in the Greatwood Hurdle recently.

It is notoriously hard for younger horses to win the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle but Paul Nicholls’ charge looks to have a touch of class and offers plenty of value in the Champion Hurdle betting at 20/1.

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