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HONEYSUCKLE: 2-time Festival heroine to defend her crown next season

Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle will bid to defend her crown this upcoming season

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Rachael Blackmore riding Honeysuckle clear the last to win The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy during day one of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. Picture date: Tuesday March 16, 2021.

Defending Champion Hurdle queen Honeysuckle will remain over hurdles for the upcoming 2021/22 National Hunt campaign, connections have confirmed.

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The duel Cheltenham Festival successor sauntered to an easy success on the opening day of the 2021 renewal and went onto further her unbeaten record when winning at Punchestown on her most recent start.

WATCH: HONEYSUCKLE REIGNS SUPREME IN THE CHAMPION HURDLE UNDER RACHAEL BLACKMORE [CREDIT: RACING TV]

Talk had continued of a potential emulation of the great Dawn Run, who became the only horse in history to win both the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup when taking the blue ribbon event in 1986.

WATCH: DAWN RUN MAKES HISTORY AT THE 1986 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL [CREDIT: RACING TV]

But Henry de Bromhead’s charge, despite her point-to-point history, will not bid to match the legendary mare’s remarkable achievement – yet.

The handler told the Racing Post: “Honeysuckle will stay over hurdles, that is what everyone has decided. She’s the defending champion and she will hopefully go back and defend the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

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Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore enjoyed four successes as a pair at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival

“It’s great and I cannot wait for her to come to me next week. We’re all very excited about that.

“I’d imagine she will go down a similar route to last season and we’ll look at the same races for her but we haven’t discussed any of that yet so nothing is set in stone.”

The County Waterford yard have some exciting recruits to the chasing sphere next season which will have undoubtedly played a part in the decision to side with timber over steeple fence for the daughter of Sulamani.

WATCH: THE IMPRESSIVE BOB OLINGER WINS THE 2021 BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE [CREDIT: RACING TV]

Bob Olinger looks set for a switch to the larger obstacles following his easy Festival win back in March and is top of the market for the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

JCB Triumph Hurdle king Quilixios was a late member to Knockeen and maintained his winning streak at Prestbury Park after a fine performance under Blackmore on the fourth and final day four months ago.

Horse Racing - Cheltenham Festival - Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 19, 2021 Rachael Blackmore riding Quilixios wins the 1.20 JCB Triumph Hurdle Pool via REUTERS/Alan Crowhurst
Rachael Blackmore riding Quilixios wins the 1.20 JCB Triumph Hurdle

He disappointed on his next start but could be another we see head for novice chasing later this campaign.

Dominic Chapman is senior content writer at Low6 with a passion for horse racing. He provides a NAP and NB every day throughout the week on selected National Hunt and Flat cards in both Britain and Ireland. Additionally, he hosts the Paddock Picks Podcast with former Welsh Grand National-winning pilot, Charlie Poste - the pair interviewing and discussing current racing topics with a special guest every week.

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