Horse Racing News: Honeysuckle & Constitution Hill set for Punchestown clash in Paddy Power Champion Hurdle

Paddy puts up €100k bonus if UK runner wins the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at the five-day Punchestown Festival.

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The much-anticipated duel between unbeaten HONEYSUCKLE and Rachael Blackmore and the impressive CONSTITUTION HILL is one step closer today, as it’s been confirmed that the Nicky Henderson’s runaway Supreme Novice Hurdle winner at Cheltenham has been entered in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at Punchestown later this month.

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The head-to-head has been highly anticipated in the racing world after both horses won at the  Cheltenham Festival. Constitution Hill strolled home by 22 lengths in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, while Honeysuckle kept hold of her own perfect record by retaining the Champion Hurdle, with Rachael Blackmore on-board, the same afternoon.

That immediately prompted a face-off in next year’s Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham but Constitution Hill’s owner Michael Buckley has long hinted that he was interested in putting up the well-fancied novice against the unbeaten heroine in her own backyard. Honeysuckle’s trainer Henry de Bromhead has himself previously welcomed the challenge.

With that in mind, Paddy Power has offered an extra £100k bonus to tempt British-trained horses to run in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle and challenge Honeysuckle on her own turf. And it looks like the bonus offer has done the trick, with Constitution Hill among the entries for a potential mega-clash on Friday, April 29th at the Co. Kildare track.

The two superstars, as well as Epatante and Teahupoo, could go head-to-head at the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle on April 29th if both are among the final declarations for the race on April 27th. 

Honeysuckle (8/11) is the early ante-post favourite for the potential blockbuster showdown, with Constitution Hill (6/4) a close second favourite in a race that has seen 10 entered so far. Recent Aintree winner  Epatante (6/1)  could represent Nicky Henderson also while Gordon Elliott’s Teahupoo (12/1) &   Zanahiyr (16/1), are also in the mix. Others like Adagio (25/1), Saint Roi (25/1), Echoes in Rain (33/1), Monmiral (33/1), and Darasso (50/1) are all among the early entries for the Friday feature at the five-day Punchestown Festival. 

Patrick Desmond, Racing Director at Paddy Power, said:

“We are really keen to support Irish racing. And we hope that by putting this bonus forward, it will result in a strong competitive race that can only be a positive for fans of the sport, those attending Punchestown, and those watching the blockbuster race at home.

“Competition is vital for national hunt racing and hopefully it incentivises the big British trained horses to travel to Punchestown and compete in what will be a really exciting occasion.”

Conor O’Neill, Punchestown CEO said:

“When Paddy Power came on board as Punchestown Champion Hurdle sponsors they committed to clear objectives. The race should be as competitive as possible, increase field sizes, attract the very best horses from both sides of the Irish sea and then tell people about it to create anticipation and excitement for the overall promotion of the sport.

“Now in the second year of the sponsorship they have certainly backed this up and with a €300,000 prize fund and bonus incentive. The first Paddy Power Champion Hurdle was behind closed doors so we really look forward to working with the team as we welcome crowds back to famous festival Friday at Punchestown.”

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