Honeysuckle warms up for Cheltenham defence by extending winning streak to 14 races with third Irish Champion Hurdle success
- Honeysuckle claimed a third consecutive victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle
- Galopin Des Champs mount made it two from two over fences in Novice Chase
- Chacun Pour Soi bounced back to beat Dunvegan 12 lengths in the Dublin Chase
Honeysuckle is as short as 1-2 to retain her Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham next month after making it 14 runs unbeaten in the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
A third consecutive win in the feature race on day two of the Dublin Racing Festival looked a formality with Rachael Blackmore’s mount sent off at odds of 1-5 and so it proved.
Honeysuckle jumped to the front at the second last and settled the issue in a matter of strides before finishing six and a half lengths ahead of Zanahiyr.
Rachael Blackmore rode 1-5 favourite Honeysuckle to a 14th consecutive career success
The Henry De Bromhead-trained mare became the first horse to win its first 14 races over hurdles, overhauling the previous best of 13 set by the great Bula, winner of the Champion Hurdle in 1971 and 1972.
Opposition at Cheltenham for Honeysuckle appears thin on the ground with 8-1 second favourite Appreciate It, the Willie Mullins-trained 2021 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, yet to run this season. De Bromhead said: ‘She looked great and jumped well throughout. It felt a long straight after the last but she was brilliant.’
However, the Dublin Racing Festival belonged to Mullins, who added three more wins yesterday to his four-timer on Saturday, underlining the depth of his assault on next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
Of the eight Grade One races at the Dublin meeting, Mullins won six.
Mullins said he had his heart in his mouth watching some daring jumps from Galopin Des Champs as Paul Townend’s mount made it two from two over fences with a nine-length defeat of Master McShee in the 2m 5f Ladbrokes Novice Chase.
Galopin Des Champs mount made it two from two over fences in the Ladbrokes Novice Chase
Galopin Des Champs, who won the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle at last season’s Festival, is odds-on favourite for the 3m Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.
But, on Sunday’s evidence, there is no need to step up in trip and he is 7-4 second favourite for the 2m 4f Turners Novices’ Chase, where he could face De Bromhead-trained 2021 Festival winner Bob Olinger and Venetia Williams-trained L’Homme Presse, winner of Saturday’s Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown.
Mullins also won the 2m Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle with Sir Gerhard, who will be a major force in the Supreme or Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
But his most intriguing comments came after Chacun Pour Soi beat Dunvegan 12 lengths in the Dublin Chase to bounce back from a disappointing fourth in the Tingle Creek Chase.
Asked to compare him to stablemate Energumene, who pushed Shishkin hard in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot last month, Mullins said he ‘would have put this fella in a different league all the time’.
Mullins reckoned he only had Chacun Pour Soi at 95 per cent for yesterday’s race and plans to use the same tactic at Cheltenham.