Defending champion Honeysuckle heads 23 entries for Champion Hurdle
Honeysuckle headlines the entries revealed on Tuesday for the Unibet Champion Hurdle, with the defending champion one of 23 on course for the day-one showstopper at the Cheltenham Festival on March 15.
The bookmakers make the Henry de Bromhead-trained mare a general 8-11 shot to repeat last season's six-and-a-half length success and the closest two behind her that day, Sharjah and Epatante, are set to reoppose.
Also aiming to topple Honeysuckle's unbeaten record is Appreciate It, a new challenger who was last seen thrashing his rivals by 21 lengths in the Supreme at last season's festival.
The first two home in the Triumph Hurdle, Quilixios and Adagio, also appear alongside Monmiral, who won the four-year-old Grade 1 at the Grand National meeting.
Buveur D'Air, winner of the race in 2017 and 2018, also received an entry. The 11-year-old has not raced since April but Nicky Henderson has given him the additional option of the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle – which would be his first test at three miles.
Unibet Champion Hurdle
Sponsors: 8-11 Honeysuckle, 8 Sharjah, Appreciate It, 12 Epatante, 14 Zanahiyr, 20 bar
Champ given Stayers' Hurdle option
His stablemate Champ featured in the Stayers' Hurdle entries too, with his festival target still yet to be confirmed. He is also entered in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Market leader Klassical Dream is one of 33 for the feature race on March 17 for Willie Mullins, who could also be represented by Asterion Forlonge and Melon.
No horse since the fabulous Big Buck's has successfully defended the Stayers' Hurdle, but last season's impressive winner Flooring Porter will look to end that run.
Other notable contenders include Aintree winner Thyme Hill, two-time festival hero Sire Du Berlais and Paisley Park, successful in the race in 2019.
Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle
Sponsors: 11-4 Klassical Dream, 4 Champ, 6 Flooring Porter, 13-2 Thyme Hill, 16 Asterion Forlonge, 20 Sire Du Berlais, 25 bar
Willie Mullins fires eight towards Mares' Hurdle
There are 28 entered for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 15, including last season's festival winner and ante-post favourite Telmesomethinggirl. Relkeel Hurdle winner Stormy Ireland is one of eight entries for Willie Mullins.
Shewearsitwell is a notable absentee in that contest. The Willie Mullins-trained mare fell on her last start and was reported to have suffered a fractured nostril.
Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle
Sky Bet: 11-2 Telmesomethinggirl, 13-2 Stormy Ireland, 7 Heaven Help Us, 10 Royal Kahala, Burning Victory, 12 Martello Sky, 14 bar
Read these next:
New Sky Bet customers can get £20 in free bets. New customers only. First single & e/w bet only. Odds of 1/1 or greater. 2 x £10 bet tokens. Free bet stakes not included in returns. Free bets exclude virtuals. Free bets are non-withdrawable. No free bet expiry. Eligibility restrictions. Further T&Cs apply. 18+. begambleaware.org.