Why Paul Townend can't wait to take on Honeysuckle aboard Appreciate It

Appreciate It was a clear winner of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March
Appreciate It: not seen on track since winning the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last yearCredit: Edward Whitaker

Paul Townend hopes Appreciate It can give Honeysuckle a proper test if the two clash in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next month.

Appreciate It was last seen winning last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle and was set to meet Honeysuckle at the Dublin Racing Festival last weekend, but trainer Willie Mullins decided against taking on the unbeaten mare in Dublin.

Leading Arkle fancy Appreciate It to remain over hurdles after untimely setback

Henry de Bromhead's superstar duly cruised to her 14th successive victory and emulated Istabraq and Hurricane Fly when winning her third Irish Champion Hurdle from Zanahiyr at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Speaking on the Racing Post's In The Know show, Townend said: "He [Appreciate It] is the horse with all the potential. We don't know how good Honeysuckle is but I'm looking forward to having a go at her with something on a level that Appreciate It shows.

"He seems fine. I was as disappointed as anyone I wasn't on him this weekend, I'm itching to get on his back."

Another of Townend’s mounts at the weekend, Vauban, upset hot favourite Fil Dor in the Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown and is now disputing favouritism for the Triumph Hurdle with Pied Piper, who beat Susannah Ricci's young star at Punchestown in December.

Townend is expecting it to be a close run thing between the pair at Cheltenham, saying: “It’s hard to be confident but there isn’t much between them.

“Both horses have improved from when they met at Punchestown. I think he can improve again on what he did at the weekend, he jumped much better but also jumped a little bit right. They are little things we can iron out.”

Read more:

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Betfair Hurdle: who heads the betting for Saturday's big race at Newbury?

How good is Honeysuckle? Where the mare ranks among the hurdling greats

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