Can Honeysuckle achieve even more success at Cheltenham 2021?

There’s something slightly off about a ruthless winning machine being named after a delicate, sweet-smelling spring flower, but Honeysuckle has proven her champion status time and time again over the last couple of years, and boasts an unbeaten record in jumps racing.

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One of the standout achievements for Honeysuckle and regular jockey Rachael Blackmore was the pair’s victory in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last year, and with the 2021 Festival just around the corner, there could be further success on the horizon for this impressive mare. 

At the moment, Honeysuckle is the favourite in the early Cheltenham odds to win the Mares’ Hurdle once again, and her name is even being touted in the Champion Hurdle betting, and it will be interesting to see how trainer Henry De Bromhead handles things as the Festival approaches. It could be that the Champion Hurdle would be too much, too soon for the seven-year-old, but then Honeysuckle’s record speaks for itself. 

10 wins from 10 races is a record worthy of praise, and it’s clear that Honeysuckle is a horse that has the potential to notch up some high-profile wins in the future. Blackmore deserves immense credit for this success, having been in the saddle for nine of Honeysuckle’s victories, and there’s no doubt that consistency between horse and rider is vital to the continued success of a horse in form. 

There is a slight caveat to all this in that Honeysuckle has only raced once since last year’s Cheltenham success. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that it’s been a strange year for horse racing, as it has been for every sport. But Honeysuckle’s appearance in the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November yielded yet another win, and there seems to be no let-up in the horse’s continued improvement. 

Should Honeysuckle race in the Mares’ Hurdle again, key competition could include Concertista, another winner from last year’s Cheltenham Festival, and also Benie Des Dieux, who will be out for revenge after Honeysuckle pipped her to the prize last year. But if De Bromhead decides that the horse is ready for the Champion Hurdle, then there is the prospect of taking on big hitters like Epatante and Sharjah. But whichever race she is entered into, it’ll take a great performance to stop her given her record in the horse racing results over the last few years. 

Blackmore has a special place in her heart for Honeysuckle. After all, the pair’s respective rise to prominence has coincided and both have benefitted from the other’s supreme qualities. “This means so much, this mare is so special,” Blackmore said after the Cheltenham win last year. “They’ve done an unbelievable job with her, Henry has produced her in tip-top shape every time she runs, so I’m just the lucky one that gets to steer her round. She’s unbelievable.”De Bromhead has frequently voiced his pride in both horse and rider, and it’s clear that he has immense faith in Blackmore to continually deliver the goods on board the talented mare. He may well fancy their chances of recording a memorable victory in the Champion Hurdle. Having played it safe last year and resisted the temptation to enter Honeysuckle in the day one showpiece, 2021 could be the year for her to have a crack at the big one.

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