Ruby Walsh: Honeysuckle a commanding Champion Hurdle winner but there’s fresh blood coming to take her on

What a mare she is!

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Honeysuckle secured her place in the history books after becoming a back-to-back winner of the Champion Hurdle at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival.

The superstar mare and Rachael Blackmore received a rapturous reception in the winner’s enclosure after proving too good once again for the likes of Epatante and Zanahiyr while last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Appreciate It failed to pose a threat.

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Honeysuckle looks set to go for the Champion Hurdle hat-trick next year but could face a fresh test of her credentials after up-and-comers like Constitution Hill, Sir Gerhard and Vauban starred throughout the week and could go be targeted at the championship race in 2023.

Speaking on the Cheltenham Festival 2022 Review episode of our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Ruby Walsh believes we could be in for a cracking contest in 12 months’ time. You can listen to the show in full BELOW.

Ruby Walsh:

“I thought Honeysuckle was very good. She was the best horse but she beat pretty much the same again other than Appreciate It, who faced a massive task even though I believed he was up to it.

“It was a slowly run race and Honeysuckle was much too good for him. Rachael Blackmore showed bravery at the top of the hill by tucking in and going down the inside of Not So Sleepy. She was always in command. The crowd got what they wanted to see.

“At that stage it was 3-0 to Great Britain but the whole place wanted to see Honeysuckle win. That’s the kind of reception she got and it was wonderful.

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Honeysuckle Champion Hurdle (Antepost)

“As we saw through the course of the meeting, it looks like there’s fresh blood coming to take her on and the future will be interesting.

“I couldn’t see Honeysuckle going over fences. You’re talking about one hell of a racecourse with a huge value, could you go chasing with her? I’d be slow.

“We don’t think it was the real Appreciate It. He would have loved to be dragged at a really good gallop but he had to make his own running but, look, it was his first run in 12 months. We were probably being optimistic.”

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