The Punchestown Festival could feature a clash between the two star hurdlers in jumps racing at the moment, Honeysuckle and Constitution Hill.
Both horses won their respective races at the Cheltenham Festival. Honeysuckle defended her crown in the Champion Hurdle, while Constitution Hill broke the course record on the way to success in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
This potential clash of the unbeaten hurdlers has added even extra interest to the Punchestown Festival, the final major meeting of the National Hunt season in the UK and Ireland.
Honeysuckle, who is now unbeaten in 15 career starts after her success at Cheltenham, won the Grade One Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in 2021. It could be a huge final month of the season for her jockey, as Blackmore is also set to ride Minella Times at Aintree. He is +1600 in the Grand National latest odds for the most lucrative jumps race in the world.
Blackmore has formed a great partnership with Honeysuckle. It was recently announced that the mare will enter the final campaign of her career next season. That announcement means the Irish jockey will now savor the ride on the horse that much more before she retires.
For the last three seasons, Honeysuckle has taken on some of the best hurdlers in the UK and Ireland. It is not just her own sex she has conquered, her victories in the Champion Hurdle and Irish Champion Hurdle show she has been right at the top of her division.
Constitution Hill More Than a Worthy Challenger to Defending Champion
Constitution Hill won a strong renewal of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdles at Cheltenham to secure his place as the leading novice hurdler this season. He broke Annie Power’s previous 2m hurdles record, with a time of 3m 34.35s in his 22-length success in the opening race of the meeting.
Connections of the novice have said they are keen to take on Honeysuckle at Punchestown. That shows how much confidence they have in the horse, as the most obvious target at the Irish meeting would be a novice hurdles contest.
At the age of five, Constitution Hill’s best days on the track are likely to still be ahead of him. He has been handed a rating of 170 following his victory at Cheltenham. That’s the highest ever given to a novice hurdler since the current method was introduced in 1999.
Constitution Hill’s mark of 170 is 5lb higher than Honeysuckle who is now rated at 165. If the pair do meet at Punchestown, Honeysuckle will receive weight from her rival due to the 7lb mares’ allowance.
Whatever happens at Punchestown, the two hurdlers are likely to face each other in the 2023 Champion Hurdle. Constitution Hill is the +200 favorite in the betting, while Honeysuckle is +350 to win the premier hurdles contest for a third straight year. Only five horses in history have managed that feat, with Istabraq the last to do so in 2000.
It is going to be an exciting 12 months ahead in the 2m hurdles division. If they both produce their best, we could set for something special on the track.
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