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Honeysuckle heads 10 chasing Champion Hurdle honours

Honeysuckle will face nine rivals as she defends her Unibet Champion Hurdle crown at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.

Henry de Bromhead’s mare is unbeaten in 14 starts under rules, with her 10 Grade One victories including three Irish Champion Hurdles and last year’s success in the Cheltenham feature.

The eight-year-old is an odds-on shot to retain her title on the opening day, with Willie Mullins’ Appreciate It the next best in the betting at 7-2.

Appreciate It will be making his first start for a year
Appreciate It will be making his first start for a year (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He will be having his first start since winning last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at this fixture and will be joined by stablemate Saint Roi.

Gordon Elliott is double-handed with Zanahiyr and Teahupoo.

The first-named has to find six and a half lengths with Honeysuckle on their Irish Champion Hurdle form while Teahupoo is taking a leap in class having won his last three starts at Grade Two and Three level.

Epatante runs for Nicky Henderson
Epatante runs for Nicky Henderson (David Davies/pa0

Epatante won the Champion Hurdle in 2020 for Nicky Henderson and she is firing on all cylinders again this term, having dead-heated in the Fighting Fifth on her seasonal bow before adding Christmas Hurdle success last time out. She finished third in the Champion Hurdle last season.

Adagio represents David Pipe while Not So Sleepy, who shared Fighting Fifth glory with Epatante, runs for Hughie Morrison.

Tommy’s Oscar bids to complete his dramatic rise through the ranks for Ann Hamilton with Champion Hurdle success with the field completed by Tom Lacey’s Glory And Fortune, who finished second to Epatante in the Christmas Hurdle.

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