Irish Champion Hurdle: Honeysuckle and State Man meet at Leopardstown
State Man, Honeysuckle and Vauban are the top three in Coral’s Irish Champion Hurdle odds among six confirmations for Sunday’s race at Leopardstown.
After Honeysuckle met with the first defeat of her career last time out in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse, in all likelihood it will be the first time the 7/4 shot has not been sent off favourite since the 2020 Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, when she beat Benie Des Dieux.
Ahead of her in the Irish Champion Hurdle odds at 11/10 is Willie Mullins’ State Man, who has progressed from victory in last term’s County Hurdle to win two Grade Ones already this season, landing the Morgiana and Matheson Hurdles.
State Man held off his Willie Mullins stablemate Vauban at Christmas and the champion trainer is happy for them both to meet again in an attempt to prevent a fourth successive victory for Henry de Bromhead’s mare.
Mullins said: “It’s going to be a hell of a race. Honeysuckle, I thought, ran very well (in the Hatton’s Grace). A lot of people castigated her for her run in Fairyhouse but I thought it was a great run against that class of horse. She’ll be hard to beat.
Teahupoo is a 20/1 shocker in the @BarOneRacing Hatton's Grace Hurdle!
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 4, 2022
“We’ll be doing our best with State Man and Vauban, both ran crackers at Christmas. I keep saying he’s (Vauban) only five and he is, though it’s hard for those sort of horses to improve.
“Both of them have pleased me since and we’re looking forward to see if we can take on Kenny Alexander’s Honeysuckle. It’s going to be a very good race, anyhow.”
The Gordon Elliott duo of Pied Piper and Zanahiyr and Tom Mullins’ outsider Takarengo complete the list.
Sceau Royal, a rare British raider, Dunvegan, Gentleman De Mee and Fastorslow are also engaged.
A clash for the ages looks on the cards in the @Chanelle_Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle this Sunday!
🥊 Honeysuckle vs State Man
🔥 Vauban also threatens!
Who would be your pick?⤵️
— Leopardstown RC (@LeopardstownRC) January 31, 2023
There are nine left in the Tattersalls Ireland Novices Hurdle over two miles, in which Mullins has another enviable hand.
Facile Vega, Dark Raven, Gaelic Warrior and Il Etait Temps could all run for the champion trainer.
Elliott has American Mike and Irish Point to chose from while De Bromhead’s unbeaten Inthepocket, Joseph O’Brien’s one-time Derby favourite High Definition and Oliver McKiernan’s No Looking Back add further strength in depth.
The Ladbrokes Novice Chase over two miles and five furlongs has a competitive look to it with 13 left in.
Mullins holds another strong hand with El Fabiolo, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Glengouly, James Du Berlais and Kilcruit among his team, but Elliott should offer stern resistance with Gerri Colombe, Mighty Potter and Fil Dor still in.
Irish Champion Hurdle odds
11/10 State Man
33/1 Pied Piper
View the latest horse racing odds
All odds and market correct at date of publication