Champion Hurdle or retirement for Honeysuckle

Connections of Honeysuckle have effectively ruled out a tilt at the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, stating she will either bid for a third Champion Hurdle victory or be retired.

Henry de Bromhead’s superstar mare beat Benie Des Dieux in an epic Mares’ Hurdle in 2020 and has since returned to the Cotswolds to see off the boys in the Champion Hurdle in each of the past two seasons.

Having suffered her first defeat in 17 races when bidding for a record fourth Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse last month, there were suggestions Honeysuckle could go back against her own sex at Prestbury Park this term, instead of taking on red-hot Champion Hurdle favourite Constitution Hill.

Honeysuckle clears the last in the Champion Hurdle ahead of Epatante

Honeysuckle clears the last in the Champion Hurdle ahead of Epatante

But owner Kenny Alexander’s racing manager Peter Molony revealed on Sunday that is not the case, with a decision on whether she will line up in the Champion Hurdle or be retired for broodmare duties hinging on how she performs in her bid for a fourth Irish Champion Hurdle success at Leopardstown next month.

“Henry seems happy with her so, touch wood, we’ll see in Leopardstown in four weeks’ time,” Molony told Racing TV.

“Of course I was watching him (Constitution Hill winning the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton). He’s a wonderful horse and it’s going to take a very good performance to beat him.

“Honeysuckle been a wonderful servant to us and owes us absolutely nothing. We all love her to bits and just want to get her home in one piece.

“Kenny said last year, before she was ever beaten, that if she wasn’t running to what we think is her optimum she’ll be retired and that’s the story.

“It’ll be Champion Hurdle or retire her – one or the other.”