'I don't see her going to Cheltenham if she's beaten' – Ruby Walsh fears Honeysuckle could run final race on Sunday | The Sun

RUBY WALSH fears Honeysuckle could run her final race on Sunday.

The legendary jockey believes the wondermare famed for her 16-race winning streak and incredible bond with Rachael Blackmore might not go to Cheltenham Festival if she is soundly beaten.

Honeysuckle tasted defeat for the first time ever last December when third in the Hatton's Grace.

Henry de Bromhead's charge is a best-price 15-8 for Sunday's Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle.

Willie Mullins' State Man – a runaway winner of the Matheson Hurdle – is the 5-4 fav for the Dublin Racing Festival blockbuster.

And Walsh thinks that unless Honeysuckle – currently 8-1 for the Champion Hurdle at the Festival – gets the better of him or finishes close up to the winner, then a Cheltenham farewell may be off the cards.

Especially with Nicky Henderson's unstoppable Constitution Hill looking likely to go off the shortest-priced favourite ever for the first-day feature.

Walsh said: "I don’t see her going to Cheltenham if she’s well beaten on Sunday.

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"You’re now at the beginning of February and I wouldn’t be surprised if she was wound down over the next six weeks and her next visit was to a stallion.

"That’s what I think but it’s hard to predict. I’ll deal with that one at about half three on Sunday as to what the future holds for Honeysuckle!

"Right now her future is the Irish Champion Hurdle and I’d love to see her go and win.

"I’d love to see one of these be authoritative and at least be going to Cheltenham thinking something can take on Constitution Hill.

"Look, this is Ireland. The champion gets knocked down and then when she goes and wins again we’re all behind her again.

"With my Willie Mullins hat on I’d love to see State Man win but with my human hat on I’ll be shouting for Honeysuckle.

"I think she’s been an incredible race mare, and I think she, Henry and Rachael have been incredible for the promotion and popularity of the sport. They are incredible.

"Rachael and Honeysuckle put people on the gate. We’ve all seen that. At Punchestown last year and at Fairyhouse, we’ve all seen it. And we’ll see it again at Leopardstown on Sunday.

"They bring extra people racing – and that’s brilliant."

Irish Champion Hurdle odds via Coral

11-10 State Man

7-4 Honeysuckle

3-1 Vauban

25-1 Zanahiyr

33-1 Pied Piper

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