Honeysuckle team leaning toward Champion Hurdle if Leopardstown defence goes to plan
- We bring you the news that Honeysuckle could run in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival
- Henry De Bromhead's mare will attempt to defend her crown in the Irish Champion Hurdle this weekend
- Unbeaten Honeysuckle won the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham last year
- Peter Molony says the team are "edging towards the Champion Hurdle" this season
Rachael Blackmore celebrates winning the Mares' Hurdle with Honeysuckle in 2020. (Getty)
Honeysuckle will, once again, put her unbeaten record on the line in the Irish Champion Hurdle this weekend.
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Henry De Bromhead's mare battled bravely to win this race 12 months ago, before going on to beat Benie Des Dieux in the Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Rachael Blackmore's mount opened her campaign with an eighth-straight victory in a row, winning her second Hatton's Grace Hurdle. Many were expecting De Bromhead's stable star to head back to the Mares' Hurdle following her run this weekend.
However, it seems the team have other ideas. Peter Molony, racing manager for owner Kenny Alexander, revealed this week that the Champion Hurdle could be the target for Honeysuckle, rather than a return to the Mares' Hurdle.
"Last season we more or less decided from the start that we were going for the Mares' Hurdle no matter what happened." Molony told the Racing Post.
"She jumped a bit big and novicey when winning the Irish Champion last year and we didn't just trust her jumping would stand up at championship pace over two miles at Cheltenham, which is why we stuck to the plan."
"I think her jumping has come on in leaps and bounds this year and she's getting slicker and faster. We are definitely edging towards the Champion Hurdle, but let's see what happens on Saturday first."
Since that interview, Concertista has replaced Honeysuckle at the head of the Mares' Hurdle betting, with Unibet pushing last year's winner out to 11/4.
Unibet has also clipped Honeysuckle in their Champion Hurdle betting, listing her as their 8/1 joint second-favourite behind fellow mare Epatante.
Honeysuckle has to pass Sunday's test in the Irish Champion Hurdle first, and Molony has stated that a second-straight win in this historic Grade One would mean the world to the team.
"To emulate Hurricane Fly and Istabraq would be fairly incredible," Molony said. "I read the other day that they were the only two horses who have won back-to-back runnings of the race in modern times and I took a big gulp when I saw that.
"To defend the unbeaten record is a huge thing for us as well. Listen, it's going to go at some stage, but you'd like to hang on to it for as long as you can."