Barry Geraghty thinks the Honeysuckle team are making the right call in sending the dual Champion Hurdle heroine to the Mares’ Hurdle instead of defending her title at the Cheltenham Festival.
The defending Champion Hurdler lost her unbeaten record when beaten on seasonal reappearance in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle earlier this season, before a second defeat last weekend in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
That defeat came behind Champion Hurdle contender State Man, and convinced connections that the longer trip of the Mares’ Hurdle gives her the best chance of a Festival success ahead of retirement.
And that is a decision that multiple Festival-winning jockey Barry Geraghty agrees with, conceding that she has little chance of turning over that form with State Man or defeating favourite Constitution Hill.
“I think they are making the right call with the Mares’ Hurdle,” Geraghty told Off The Fence. “After the Hatton’s Grace, I was all for staying at the Champion Hurdle route.
“Albeit she ran well in the Hatton’s Grace and she didn’t lose much in defeat, at Leopardstown for me she just struggled to lie with that pace and she just doesn’t have that cruising speed and has lost that little bit of an edge and she didn’t jump as well then.
“It looked as if she was going to get swallowed up turning in, but when Rachael got stuck into her she rallied well and she finished strongly.
“For me, she’s crying out for further. There’s nothing to say she’ll beat State Man or get anywhere near him and likewise, you’d say the same about Constitution Hill.
“If they are going to go on with her, the Mares’ Hurdle is the way to go.”
At The Races pundit Tony Keenan was keen on the Irish Champion Hurdle winner State Man, insisting that he’ll be hard to knock out of the frame next month, even if he might not prove good enough to defeat Constitution Hill.
“State Man is just ultra-professional and his jumping is much improved,” he said. “He took a sideways jump at the first but he got slicker as the race went on and he was very quick at the second-last.
“Is he going to beat Constitution Hill? Probably not but he’s the mother and father of all each way ante post bets.
“It’s going to take an act of god to knock him out of the three and there won’t be a whole pile of runners with it being Mares’ Hurdle or nothing for Honeysuckle if you listen to the trainer.”