Honeysuckle is set to be the headline act on day one of the Cheltenham Festival when defending her Unibet Champion Hurdle crown on Tuesday.
Henry De Bromhead’s unbeaten mare is odds-on to get the better of her nine rivals with bookmakers rating compatriots Appreciate It and Teahupoo as the main threats.
Sunday’s final declarations for the first leg of jump racing’s biggest week of the year underlined how Cheltenham’s Anglo-Irish rivalry could be dictated by early results prior to the Champion Hurdle.
Last year, cross-channel trained horses won two of the three races only for Irish runners to ultimately sweep to an unprecedented 23-5 “green-wash” over the rest of the week.
Saturday’s Imperial Cup result at Sandown, where Peter Fahey’s 20-1 outsider Surprise Package won easily, sent an ominous signal for the week ahead, particularly in relation to handicaps.
It is only 5-4 with some layers that I …