Hatton’s Grace Hurdle preview: Sweet on the chance of Honeysuckle at Fairyhouse

Published on: November 30, 2019
Author: Jamie Clark
This 2019 Hatton's Grace Hurdle preview features Fairyhouse specialist Honeysuckle

The feature over the smaller obstacles at Fairyhouse’s Winter Festival is the 2m 4f Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (14:40), and unbeaten mare Honeysuckle looks well worth a wager.

Trained by Henry De Bromhead, the five-year-old daughter of Sulamani is four from four starts at this venue.

After bolting up by 15 lengths from subsequent Grade 2 handicap heroine Annie Mc in an Irish point at Dromahane, Honeysuckle scored the first of three course and distance successes.

A 12-length win on her debut under Rules was very taking. Honeysuckle followed-up when making all and scoring by eight lengths in a Listed affair at Thurles.

Her hat-trick came here over 2m 2f in a Grade 3 contest when easily winning again, this time by six lengths.

That rapid progress through the ranks meant Honeysuckle was a leading fancy for the Dawn Run at the Cheltenham Festival.

De Bromhead wasn’t happy with her work before it, however, and she skipped it in favour of running here instead.

It proved a wise move as Honeysuckle landed the Grade 1 Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final on Easter Sunday.

After beating fellow Kenneth Alexander owned Elfile by 5 1/2 lengths, she completed her campaign undefeated. The runner-up has since won twice and that advertises the form nicely.

Honeysuckle looked as good as ever when registered a third course and distance victory on reappearance when winning unextended by 11 lengths on heavy ground.

She is the epitome of a track specialist and is versatile as regards ground. It makes Honeysuckle a value bet at 2/1 with Bethard in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle – a race where mares have a fine recent record.

Triple race winner Apple’s Jade taken on

Apple’s Jade became just the third horse to win this three times 12 months ago.

Trained by Gordon Elliott for Gigginstown House Stud, the seven-year-old daughter of Saddler Maker is a classy sort but recent runs have been below par.

As Apple’s Jade has been a beaten favourite on her last four starts, punters should be wary. She has done nothing wrong in winning the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle in three consecutive years, however.

A 10-time Grade 1 winner, Apple’s Jade has earned a top official rating of 162. It puts her 9lb and upwards clear of the field on adjusted figures when you factor in the 7lb sex allowance.

While Apple’s Jade had a busier campaign than usual last term with seven outings, her form also tailed off the previous spring.

She has needed her reappearance run before, notably in 2016 when twice a beaten favourite before winning this.

With 24 races under her belt, Apple’s Jade may be vulnerable to an improving, young horse like fellow mare Honeysuckle.

Given connections and her record at this elite level, she still commands tons of respect. There is a case to be made against Apple’s Jade, however.

She didn’t respond when headed and beaten over nine lengths by the re-opposing Bacardys in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan.

It was most unlike her. Odds of 5/2 with Betway for Apple’s Jade don’t appeal despite previous impressive performances in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle.

Bacardys pick of Mullins Hatton’s Grace Hurdle trio

Our 219 Hatton's Grace Hurdle preview from Fairyhouse also includes Bacardys

Ireland’s champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins launches a three-pronged attack here.

Aforementioned Lismullen Hurdle victor Bacardys is the clear pick of those if repeating his Navan defeat of Apple’s Jade.

Although 7lb worse off with the mare, this eight-year-old son of Coastal Path is two from two over this trip.

Bacardys didn’t really take to chasing last season, so spent the end of his campaign back in this sphere.

He was far from disgraced when sixth in the Cheltenham Stayers’ Hurdle to Paisley Park and then chased home Unowhatimeanharry in the Punchestown Festival equivalent.

Bacardys was also value for more than the winning margin on reappearance. This is because he was eased close home once Apple’s Jade was beaten.

If following-up on that display, Bacardys is going to run Honeysuckle close as they come out level on adjusted ratings.

Mullins has won the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle three times before. Bacardys is 4/1 with Ladbrokes to give him another winner and preferred to Penhill, who has a lengthy layoff to overcome.

Owned by Tony Bloom, Penhill was last season in action chasing home Faugheen in the Punchestown Champion Stayers Hurdle of 2018.

A dual Cheltenham Festival winner, the eight-year-old son of Mount Nelson thus has form over further.

That makes the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle an interesting return to action following a racecourse absence 584 days.

Penhill is going to need this run, so Bacardys is a better bet despite being rated 3lb inferior.

Mullins’ trio is completed by Killultagh Vic. This 10-year-old was behind Bacardys at the Punchestown Festival last time out and there’s no reason why that form shouldn’t be confirmed.