Paddy Power Champion Hurdle runner-by-runner guide as Honeysuckle faces 5 at Punchestown

Can she take her unbeaten record to 16?

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Honeysuckle faces five rivals at Punchestown on Friday as the unbeaten mare defends her Paddy Power Champion Hurdle crown.

A mouthwatering meeting with Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Constitution Hill failed to come to fruition despite Uncle Paddy offering a £100,000 bonus if any UK raider can defeat the ‘Queen Of The Jumps’ in her own backyard, while Epatante has also swerved the clash.

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Adagio, who finished eighth in the Champion Hurdle, is the only horse to make the trip across the Irish Sea, while home challengers Darasso, Echoes In Rain, Saint Roi and Teahupoo complete the field.

We’ve run the rule over the runners and you’ll find our handy horse-by-horse guide to the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle below.

Adagio

Trainer: David Pipe Jockey: Tom Scudamore Age: 5 Weight: 11st 12lbs

Smart hurdler. Tongue strap on for 1st time, 14¾ lengths eighth of 10 to Honeysuckle in Champion Hurdle (28/1) at Cheltenham (16.4f, good) 45 days ago. Now tried in cheekpieces.

Darasso

Trainer: Joseph Patrick O’Brien Jockey: L. P. Dempsey Age: 9 Weight: 11st 12lbs

Smart performer. Five wins from 11 runs last season. Career best when winning 8-runner Ballybin Hurdle at Fairyhouse (20f, good to soft, 7/2) 11 days ago by 6 lengths from Santa Rossa, keeping on well. This is much tougher.

Saint Roi

Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: M. P. Walsh Age: 7 Weight: 11st 12lbs

Very smart hurdler. 33/1 and tongue strap on for 1st time, good 7¼ lengths fourth of 10 to Honeysuckle in Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham (16.4f, good) 45 days ago. Could be the one to follow that rival home here.

Teahupoo

Trainer: Gordon Elliott Jockey: Robbie Power Age: 5 Weight: 11st 12lbs

Very smart hurdler. Three wins from 4 runs last season. 32¾ lengths last of 10 to Honeysuckle in Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham (16.4f, good, 9/1) 45 days ago. Better than he was able to show that day.

Echoes In Rain

Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: P. Townend Age: 6 Weight: 11st 5lbs

Smart hurdler. C&D winner. Respectable 6½ lengths fifth of 12 to Marie’s Rock in David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham (19.9f, good, 7/1) 45 days ago. Looks up against it in this company.

Honeysuckle

Trainer: Henry de Bromhead Jockey: Rachael Blackmore Age: 8 Weight: 11st 5lbs

Top-class hurdler. 8/11, decisive winner of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham (16.4f, good) 45 days ago by 3½ lengths from Epatante, travelling strongly. Hard to oppose.

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