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Honeysuckle too good once again for back-to-back Champion Hurdles

Honeysuckle created history today by becoming the first mare to win the Grade One Unibet Champion Hurdle twice. 
 
Repeating her success of 2021, the eight-year-old was the three and half-ength winner from Epatante, the 2020 winner. Zanahiyr was another length away in third.  
 
It is the seventh victory in the Unibet Champion Hurdle for a mare following African Sister (1939), Dawn Run (1984), Flakey Dove (1994), Annie Power (2016), Epatante (2020) and Honeysuckle (2021). 
  
Honeysuckle, who started her career by winning a four-year-old mares’ maiden at Dromahane for Gerry Cosgrave and Mark O’Hare, has now won all 15 of her subsequent starts under rules and earned over £1 million in prize money following 11 Grade 1 successes.  
 
Winning jockey Rachael Blackmore said: “It was incredible, to be honest. Walking back down there, I’ve never felt an atmosphere like that. There wasn’t a moment’s silence. People here - it’s just an amazing crowd, amazing atmosphere. It’s easy to say that when you’re winning, but it’s a very special place and to hear those cheers was very special. 
 
“She always finds a way, she really does. I was kind of wider than I’d like everywhere, and maybe wasn’t as happy halfway round, but I just slotted in and we got our gap then. It was fantastic. I’m so happy Kenny Alexander is here as well. He’s a really good man and a class owner, and I’m really glad he was getting cheered on. 
 
“Jockeys dream of getting on good horses, but she takes that to a whole new level. She’s special, she’s once in a lifetime, and I’m so lucky to be riding her. 
 
“Part of me was thinking, I should be more nervous here before the race, but I actually do have a lot of confidence in her. It would be weird if I didn’t, because she’s never let me down. She’s incredible. Henry [de Bromhead] gets her to the races every day in the form he does, and that’s an extremely tough feat, to train a horse, or a mare, to win all those races in succession. It’s unbelievable.” 
 
  
Winning trainer Henry de Bromhead said:   “It is unbelievable. It is better than last year with the crowd here and Kenny (Alexander, owner) and Caroline and everybody. It’s amazing. It is a never ending fairytale. It is incredible. I just really hoped that she could get that Cheltenham roar and it is fantastic that she has got it. 
 
“She got it in the Mares’ Hurdle but for this she missed out last year it is amazing. It is brilliant for our team and everyone. Rachael was sublime and I can’t believe it as usual. She is just amazing and we are so lucky to have her. I did feel the pressure more with the build up. The dream result was her winning with Rachael and the crowd being back here to give her that roar. 
 
“She is incredible. I’m always trying to prepare myself for it to end but she just keeps winning. It is brilliant (she has become the people’s horse) and it is no more than she deserves. If all the good will and good lucks could win you a race she would have won by a furlong. Most people here were willing her to win. The support we get with her is just mental.  
 
“You have to pinch yourself how lucky we are to be involved with a horse like her. She is just incredible. It is relief but obviously ecstasy as well in the sense I hoped she would get the welcome she got.  
 
“She is brilliant (Rachael). She had so much horse underneath her at the second last, they are just a dream team.  

 

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