Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday and pick out their 1-2-3…
“…produced one of best performances by a mare in recent times…”
Timeform on Honeysuckle
Irish Champion Hurdle
15:15 Leopardstown, Saturday
Live on ITV4
1. Abacadabras (Gordon Elliott/ Jack Kennedy)
Smart hurdler who finished runner-up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle after winning a Grade 1 over this course and distance. Won the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November but disappointed in a first-time tongue strap when only fifth to Sharjah in the Matheson Hurdle. Even a return to his best is unlikely to be good enough in this company.
2. Petit Mouchoir (Gordon Elliott/ Bryan Cooper)
Is on a long losing run that stretches back to October 2017 but is still capable of very smart form and was only beaten a length when third to Honeysuckle in this last year. Finished a respectable third to Sharjah in the Matheson Hurdle last time but will likely have to settle for minor honours again.
3. Saint Roi (Willie Mullins/ Mark Walsh)
Created a big impression when winning the County Hurdle at Cheltenham last season and looked a bit unlucky when edged out by Abacadabras in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November. Didn’t appear to have any excuses when only fourth behind Sharjah having been sent off favourite for the Matheson Hurdle here last time, however.
4. Saldier (Willie Mullins/ Paul Townend)
Lightly raced hurdler who produced a very smart performance when winning the 2019 Morgiana Hurdle. Was off for more than a year before finishing sixth in the Matheson Hurdle last time and, while he may strip fitter, a big step forward is required.
5. Sharjah (Willie Mullins/ Patrick Mullins)
Disappointed in this last year but showed he’s a high-class hurdler when finishing runner-up in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. Had four of these in behind when winning the Matheson Hurdle for the third year in succession on his reappearance, and he is the main threat to Honeysuckle.
6. Honeysuckle (Henry de Bromhead/ Rachael Blackmore)
Has won all nine starts under Rules, including this race last year. Produced one of best performances by a mare in recent times when accounting for Benie des Dieux at Cheltenham on her final start last season and landed a second Hatton’s Grace on her reappearance at Fairyhouse in November. Will remain tough to beat.