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Prior to the start of the season, many believed that it would be a simple victory for Benie Des Dieux in the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. This is following her stunning victory in the French champion hurdle and she was all but set to land the Mares Hurdle with ease prior to her fall at the last. However, the Willie Mullins trained mare has yet to make the track this season, whereas Honeysuckle continues to impress. This has now seen the latter move to the head of the market and she continues to prove popular for punters using the bet365 bonus code, in what is set to be one of the top head to heads of the National Hunt season.
The five-year-old mare is trained by Henry De Bromhead in Ireland and is unbeaten in her seven starts to date. Following a 15-length victory in a point-to-point she started under rules, with big things expected. She opened up with a 12-length victory in a Mares maiden hurdle, when sent off a shade of odds on. This gave an indication of her reputation even at this early stage.
Honeysuckle was then sent to contest a Mares novice listed race and again won with ease by just over three lengths. She was then sent to Fairyhouse at the end of January to contest a Grade Three Mares novice race. This was another big step up but she was similarly dominant in winning by six lengths.
Following an 85 day break, Honeysuckle was stepped up to the Grade One Mares Novice Hurdle Championship final and put in as the 6/4 favourite. This was following her missing the Festival due to injury. She travelled ominously well throughout the race and was driven clear before the last to win readily by just over five lengths. This performance clearly showed that she was the dominant novice mare and could just be something a little bit special.
Honeysuckle returned this season following a 205-day break to contest a hurdle race at Fairyhouse. She was sent off at odds of 3/10 if defeat was out of the question. This proved to be the case as she eased clear up the run in to win by 11 lengths, virtually on the bridle. The performance also saw her achieve an RPR rating of 145, which was her highest to date.
These victories all meant a step up to contest the Grade One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse. In opposition including the Mullins pair of Penhill and Bacardys, as well as previous three-time winner Apple’s Jade. This was the performance that really got people talking, as Honeysuckle was driven clear from two out to win very easily by nine lengths. This saw the performance given an RPR rating of 160, higher than anything Benie Des Dieux has achieved to date. It now all sets up for a fascinating head-to-head between the pair on the first day of the meeting in March.
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