The Irish Champion Hurdle remains Honeysuckle’s next step after his first career defeat at Fairyhouse.
Henry de Bromhead’s smart mare was aiming for a historic Hatton’s Grace Hurdle win with a 17th victory in a row over two and a half miles on Sunday.
But after a strong run into the lead up the home straight, Honeysuckle’s effort slipped between the final two flights and he was narrowly beaten three times into third place behind Gordon Elliott’s surprise winner Teahupoo and Willie Mullins’ Klassical Dream.
Although contact were disappointed to see the eight-year-old lose his unbeaten record, Peter Molony – racing manager for owner Kenny Alexander – feels there is plenty of encouragement to take from his performance.
“He was fine this morning, that’s fine,” he said. “It was a great run – finishing third in Grade 1. The winner is a very good horse on the soft to heavy ground and we are only looking at his unbeaten record so far.
“In normal circumstances we are very happy with the race and after everything he has done in the last few years we are in the bonus section, it is a dream.”
Honeysuckle has won the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival in February in the past three years and Molony hopes that will be his next port of call.
“At the moment, the Irish Champion Hurdle is the plan,” added Molony.
“It was a good run on Sunday, his first run of the season and we’re happy, going further.
“I couldn’t be happier for Brian Acheson (winner). He’s been a good friend to Kenny and me and Henry. He puts so much into the game. Nobody deserves to win more than him.”