2021 Champion Hurdle Betting Tips – Honeysuckle Can Continue Unbeaten Run
Cheltenham Festival Betting Tips · Tuesday, 16th Mar 2021 - 15:05
Sunday, 14th Mar 2021
Our experienced editor
Our experienced editor
Jamie Clark was Sports Editor of Coral bookmakers between 2014 and 2017 during their merger with Labrokes and a key period for the British betting industry. Working as a bookie’s runner on the point to point circuit in the Midlands and at Market Rasen Racecourse where his late godfather had a trackside pitch growing up, he has had ties to horse racing all of his life. A regular visitor to Cheltenham during the National Hunt season and York over the summer, he has been involved in Horsebetting.com since its inception. Jamie now brings you his take on major news stories from the racing world and those all-important betting tips.
De Bromhead charge can win Champion battle of mares
The feature race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is the 2m Grade 1 Champion Hurdle (15:05), and Honeysuckle can extend her undefeated streak. Trained in Ireland by Henry De Bromhead, this magnificent mare is unbeaten in 11 career starts.
They include an Irish point – form franked this season by the runner-up Annie Mc. Once sent to De Bromhead and racing under Rules, Honeysuckle developed a reputation as a Fairyhouse specialist. However, she soon started winning away from track when taking the 2020 Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown and the Mares’ Hurdle here.
The fact that Honeysuckle stays further is a huge plus for the Champion Hurdle. After winning the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse again on reappearance, she destroyed the best two-milers in the Emerald Isle. Her defence of the Irish Champion Hurdle was hugely impressive, and a repeat of that makes Honeysuckle hard to beat.
She has a rock solid profile and doesn’t know defeat. This may be her sternest test ever, yet Honeysuckle is likeable and gutsy mare who can tough things out as well as win in style. For those reasons, she is the one to be on at 9/4 with 888Sport in the Champion Hurdle.
It would be foolish to underestimate the defending champ, Epatante on the back of one below par run. Her trainer, Nicky Henderson, has a record eight wins in the Champion Hurdle and owner JP McManus is the most successful in history. On that basis, Epatante could give Honeysuckle plenty to think about.
A classy victory in this 12 months ago capped a season of remarkable improvement. Epatante looked as good as ever when cruising to success in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle up at Newcastle. The runner-up, Sceau Royal, has since won the Game Spirit Chase over fences too.
Epatante didn’t fire in her defence of the Christmas Hurdle, but was found to have a slight back problem afterwards. Henderson is confident that has been dealt with now, however, and she will be primed to give her best running on this grand stage.
As Epatante is the only main market rival tackling Honeysuckle off level terms, she rates a big danger at 7/2 with William Hill ahead of Goshen. Gary Moore’s young pretender is out to make amends for unseating his rider at the final flight when clear in the Triumph Hurdle last season, but has only won once since in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.
Sharjah among each-way possibles
Drying ground will suit last year’s Champion Hurdle runner-up Sharjah, and he may be the most solid of the each-way options. Watch out for some bookmakers paying extra places here. Trained by Willie Mullins for Rich and Susannah Ricci, Sharjah has 19 lengths to find on his last meeting with Honeysuckle and about half that on Abacadabras.
However, he saved his best display last season for this race. Mullins also has the dark horse James Du Berlais, a French import bought into his stable by owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. He could be anything, and connections must think highly of him to pitch him into the Champion Hurdle on his British Isles debut.
On known form, Sharjah seems the most solid each-way bet at 16/1 with William Hill, but plenty will fancy their chances of making the frame. Aspire Tower comes here fresh for De Bromhead, while Silver Streak got the better of Epatante in the Christmas Hurdle. Whether that was her true running is doubtful, though. There is also the fact that Evan Williams’ grey hasn’t won at Cheltenham in his career to date.