Honeysuckle came through her biggest test to date in Saturday’s Irish Champion Hurdle, but I couldn’t say whether she is more suited to next month’s Champion Hurdle or the Mares’ Hurdle at this stage.
Training horses is all about placing them in races they can win – and Cheltenham is all about winning.
Honeysuckle’s connections will have to decide if they prefer having a crack at another mare, Epatante, who is favourite for the 2m Champion Hurdle or whether they fancy a possible clash with Benie Des Dieux in the Mares Hurdle over 2m 4f on the same day.
And even that’s dependent on the Mares Hurdle being Benie Des Dieux’s target!
There’s been speculation that Benie Des Dieux could go to the Champion Hurdle given her impressive comeback at Gowran Park. But she has no hurdle form at two miles and – like Honeysuckle – would have to be supplemented for the opening-day feature race on March 10.
Things are very fluid at the moment. We know that Paisley Park is the one to beat in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, but if that race was to open up, it could also be an option for Benie Des Dieux.
I know people like ante-post bets and want to get an angle, but there’s nothing worse than backing a horse ante-post that’s not going to run in that particular race.
I don’t think Benie Des Dieux is an ante-post bet full stop – unless you have a strong opinion of your own.
I’m not pushing people one way or the other, because I don’t know.
There are so many moving parts in this situation for both mares at the moment.
It’s a little different for the likes of Notebook and Cash Back who are both going to re-oppose in the Arkle Chase at the Festival, all being well.
Similarly, Delta Work, Kemboy and Presenting Percy are going to clash again in the Gold Cup if they get there fit and well. If you have an opinion about these horses at least you are sure of their target.
Honeysuckle and Benie Des Deux’s definite target is harder to call as there are more options – do you know what I mean?
Connections will want to make sure their horse is going to the Festival in good form first and then who the opposition is likely to be, before they narrow their options by committing too soon.
Personally, I can’t see Willie Mullins or Henry de Bromhead making a final decision until much closer to the Cheltenham Festival next month.
It would be worth holding your dollar until they do.