Constitution Hill could take on Honeysuckle at Punchestown


Constitution Hill could take on Honeysuckle in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival with the sponsors offering a bonus of £100,000 should a British trained horse take the trophy.
Henry de Bromhead’s Honeysuckle has won 15 times from 15 starts and last month retained her Champion Hurdle title at the Cheltenham Festival under Rachael Blackmore.
Earlier that day Nicky Henderson’s Constitution Hill won the Sky Bet Supreme Novice’s Hurdle by a staggering 22-length.
Honeysuckle won the Champion Hurdle last year. Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill said: “When Paddy Power came on board as Punchestown Champion Hurdle sponsors they committed to clear objectives.
“The race should be as competitive as possible, increase field sizes, attract the very best horses from both sides of the Irish Sea and then tell people about it to create anticipation and excitement for the overall promotion of the sport.
“Now in the second year of the sponsorship they have certainly backed this up with a €300,000 prize fund and bonus incentive. The first Paddy Power Champion Hurdle was behind closed doors so we really look forward to working with the team as we welcome crowds back to the famous festival Friday at Punchestown.”
Other Irish trained horses in the mix for the Champion Hurdle are Teahupoo and Zanahiyr. Minella Crooner, who missed the Cheltenham Festival with a minor setback, is entered for the Alanna Homes and the three-mile Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle.
Trainer Gordon Elliott said: ““We’ve made entries for all the Grade One races at Punchestown and we will be well represented throughout the week. It’s our season-ending Festival in Ireland and a fantastic five days. We’ve had a bit of luck there in the past and hopefully we can finish the season off with a high.
“It’s where my owners want to have runners and it’s where I want to have runners. We had two winners at Cheltenham and two Grade One winners at Aintree and the horses have been running well. We haven’t always had the best of luck in the last few weeks, but a lot of the horses that weren’t winning were hitting the crossbar and finishing second so it was brilliant to have the couple of big winners at Aintree and see Delta Work and Escaria Ten run so well in the National itself.
“We’ve had some great days at Punchestown. It’s a brilliant place and they’ve a great team there on the track and behind the scenes and they provide beautiful ground which is so important at this time of year.
“Three Stripe Life was brilliant at Aintree and will go over fences next season so he might take in Punchestown but again, he’ll tell us over the next few days. He’s a horse to really look forward to next season.
“Minella Crooner has options of the Alanna Homes and the Irish Mirror Novice Hurdles. It was disappointing that he picked up a setback just before Cheltenham but it was very minor.
“We were just forced to miss a few days with him at the wrong time, but he’ll go to Punchestown fresh now and I’ve been happy with him in the last couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to getting him back out.”