HONEYSUCKLE is on track to try and win the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown next Sunday for the fourth year in a row.

The mare suffered the first defeat of her career at Fairyhouse in December and there was been some speculation since over whether she remains capable of reproducing her best form.

This week her trainer Henry de Bromhead reported: “She seems great now, really good. I thought she ran well at Fairyhouse, probably not up to her highest level but I think, for her first run back, she ran really well.

“Two and a half [miles] on ground that got very soft in the end might have just been a stretch, beaten by a real soft-ground specialist in Teahupoo and Klassical Dream is a high-class horse as well.

“She looked like she had it put to bed between the second last and the last and then they just came at her and that was it. We don’t see anything different here. Maybe that will arise on the track. Everyone is happy. She looks good.”

There has been much debate about her future since that reverse and connections will make a decision after Leopardstown.

“We’ll see how it goes but both options in Cheltenham are open. The Mares’ Hurdle is definitely an option and the Champion Hurdle is definitely an option. I think we see how the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle goes and we’ll all sit down and thrash it out together!

“I think the most important thing is we keep all our options open. I suppose my job is to find the race I’ve the best chance of winning. That may not be what we go with. At the moment, looking at Constitution Hill and he’s whatever he is, 1/3. I’m not saying the mares’ race would be an easy race but you might have a better chance of winning that than you would a Champion, if all the players turn up but we have to get through the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle first and that’s a big test for us also. We’ve got plenty to do in between.”

Honeysuckle is the obvious headline act but de Bromhead will have plenty of good opportunities over the two days of the Dublin Racing Festival with promising novices stepping up and a couple of improving horses in the handicaps.


(Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors “50k Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff” Novice Hurdle)

“I thought he won really nicely at Leopardstown over Christmas. Davy (Russell) felt he got there too soon on him at Punchestown so Rachael was really patient on him and it seemed to really suit him. He’s only a young horse, but he’s progressed with every run. He’s only a five-year-old but he’s a really nice horse and we’re looking forward to running.

“Fair play to Nathaniel Lacy for putting up the €50,000 bonus for stable staff if the winner of this race goes on to win at Cheltenham. It’s a great incentive and a great reward.”


(Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle)

“Kevin Ross bought him at the sales off the flat and I was delighted. He’s a really nice horse. We’ve taken the view that we’ll run in the better races and if he wins one, happy days, and if he doesn’t, he’s still a novice for next year. So we’ll see where we are at that level. It was a good run at Leopardstown.

We were delighted with him. It was his first run and we hadn’t got him to a schooling hurdle because of the frost so I thought he was good. We’re jumping into Grade 1 level now so we’ll see. But everyone is.”


(Grade 1 Ladbrokes Novice Chase)

“He’s in at Naas on Sunday. He’s probably more a three-miler than a two-five horse but he seemed to be jumping and travelling really well at Leopardstown at Christmas when Jack (Kennedy) decided to pummel Rachael off him, saving himself. I hadn’t seen that one before! It was a long way from home but Rachael was really happy with him. His run before that at Punchestown was a good run when he made a bad mistake which was uncharacteristic. Jumping is his forte and he’d have missed the three out the back that were left out both times. he did well to finish so close. He’s a lovely horse.”


(Grade 1 Ladbrokes Novice Chase)

“It feels soon after Punchestown but we’ll see. He’s in good form but it just feels soon to me to be running him back. It was a great run. I know it was disappointing to be beaten a half-length by Impervious but to pull away like they did from the others was good.

He’s improving with every run. I was very disappointed with him at Gowran (in November). Even before he fell it looked like he’d levelled out. He looked to enjoy it the other day, winging fences. He’s definitely going the right way.”


(Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle)

“The Lawlor’s was coming a bit too quick for my liking as he’d had a hard race at Naas but we’re happy enough to look at two miles as well as he travels well in his races. I think it’s a nice race to run in and we’ll see where we are afterwards.”

EPSON DU HOUX (Grade 1 Ladbrokes Dublin Chase / Grade B Sandyford Handicap Chase)

“I haven’t decided yet. He’s in both, so we’ll see. The handicap is probably more likely but the other race is a very valuable race so we’ll monitor the situation.”


(Grade B Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares’ Handicap Hurdle)

“We could run four in this. Foxy Girl looked good winning her maiden in Limerick on Stephen’s Day. She’s a nice mare. We’ll see what mark she gets.”


(Grade B Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares’ Handicap Hurdle)

“Popova ran well at Thurles. She would be entitled to take her chance.”

RIOGA CHOICE (Grade B Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares’ Handicap Hurdle)

“Rioga Choice ran really well up in the north. She could have finished third so this looks a nice race for her.”


(Grade B Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares’ Handicap Hurdle)

“Still Ciel bumped into Joseph’s (Bella Scintilla, trained by Joseph O’Brien) when just beaten in Killarney last October. They were more than 40 lengths clear and it’s hard to be 40 lengths clear in any race in Ireland. She won a few weeks later in Thurles and she’s not a bad mare either.”


(Grade A Bulmers Handicap Chase)

“Rebel Gold has boosted the form of her last win. She’s a lovely mare. It’s great for the Marigas, they’re great supporters of ours. She will more than likely run in that. She’s 141 now, she’s moving up into the blacktype races and she’ll get an entry in the Mares’ Chase at Cheltenham.”

BALLYADAM (Grade B Liffey Handicap Hurdle)

“He was lame after the Galway Hurdle. It was frustrating. I thought I had him bang on. I thought he’d a right chance. It’s taken him a while to come back but he seems good now. He’s one more big piece of work to do, then we’ll aim and see how we go. He’s going to pop up in one of those good handicaps someday.”