Appreciate It will attempt to end one of the most dominant runs of form in the National Hunt when he takes on Honeysuckle at Cheltenham Festival in the Champion Hurdle. Honeysuckle is the defending champion in the event and has won her last 14 races in a row.

Henry de Bromhead’s charge is the leading contender in the Cheltenham horse racing bets on the Champion Hurdle given her prowess on the track over the course of the season. Appreciate It on the other hand has not been in action in a year since dominating the field in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival. Despite his lack of time on the track, Willie Mullins’ charge is still touted to make a strong run for the crown in the Champion Hurdle tips on the sheer basis of his pedigree.

The Irish thoroughbred appears to have all the credentials of a champion, but toppling the incredible Honeysuckle without a year of racing will be a difficult challenge. Either Mullins knows something about his charge that the rest of us do not, or the legendary trainer is simply backing Appreciate It to blow away Honeysuckle with his outright pace. It will be fascinating to see whether Mullins’ gamble pays off on the grand stage, especially in a race where he has not been successful of late.

The Irishman had won the Champion Hurdle four out six times between 2011 and 2016, which included two victories for his horse Hurricane Fly along with triumphs for Faugheen and Annie Power. Since then he has been forced to watch Nicky Henderson win three times with Buveur D’Air in back-to-back seasons along with Epatante in 2020. Gavin Cromwell’s Espoir d’Allen was a surprise winner in 2019 when Buveur D’Air fell at the third hurdle, presenting the Irishman with his first victory in the race, whereas Mullins’ horse Melon finished second in the contest.

De Bromhead entered the scene with Honeysuckle last season, and Mullins could only finish second once more with Sharjah, who has previously placed as a runner-up behind Epatante. It appears that history could be repeating itself for Mullins in the event unless Appreciate It can produce a truly remarkable outing with his first run of the campaign. The Irish thoroughbred won all four of his races in the 2020/21 campaign, including his brilliant performance in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

There were good horses in the field in the event last season, but none of the calibre of Honeysuckle or even Epatante. Without measuring the quality of his charge over the course of the season, Mullins is leaving a lot to chance and in the hands of jockey Paul Townend.

Although Townend is one of the most accomplished jockeys in the sport, notably thanks to his two Cheltenham Gold Cup wins with Al Boum Photo, he has not won the Champion Hurdle. Rachael Blackmore outshone the Irishman last season, and will be in a position to do so again with Honeysuckle in the event. There is a lot of pressure on Mullins and Townend for Appreciate It to at least compete against a formidable opponent.

Oisin Murphy Raised in Killarney, Co. Kerry, Oisin Murphy is the nephew of Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey Jim Culloty. A graduate from the pony racing circuit, he became apprenticed to Andrew Balding in October, 2012, at the age of 17. In his first full season, Murphy rode 41 winners, including a four-timer on Ayr Gold Cup Day, which brought him to the attention of the wider racing public.

In 2014, Murphy rode 78 winners, including his first Group winner, Hot Streak, in the Temple Stakes at Haydock and won the apprentice jockeys’ championship. In his next four seasons, he rode 91, 115, 127 and 198 winners, having become number one jockey for Qatar Racing in 2016, before winning the Flat jockeys’ championship for the first time in 2019 with 168 winners, and riding 220 winners in the calendar year. He retained his title in 2020, riding 142 winners in a curtailed championship programme. Still only 25, Murphy already has 18 Group 1, or Grade 1, wins to his name, including the 2020 2,000 Guineas on Kameko.

For all his success, Murphy has fallen foul of the authorities more than once during his career. In June, 2019, he was barred from riding at a Salisbury fixture after failing a racecourse breathalyser and received a caution at a disciplinary hearing the following month. In November, 2020, Murphy received a riding ban – initially six months, but later reduced to three – from France Galop after testing positive for cocaine at Chantilly the previous July.