Honeysuckle brought the house down at Cheltenham as she took her unbeaten tally to 15 with another imperious performance in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Successful behind closed doors 12 months ago, the Henry de Bromhead-trained mare gave the huge crowd plenty to cheer about as she powered up the hill to join the elite hand of dual winners in the hands of Rachael Blackmore.
Appreciate It, having his first race since winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on this day last year, made the running with Not So Sleepy for company until Honeysuckle made her move and jumped to the front at the second-last flight.
The 8-11 favourite set sail for home and though challenged by Nicky Henderson’s 2020 winner Epatante (16-1), she was too good and went on to score by three and a half lengths. Zanahiyr (28-1) was a length away in third place.
“It’s just incredible. Walking out there in front of the stand with all the people, it’s just such a special place,” Blackmore told ITV Racing.
“I’m so lucky to be riding winners here and on this mare. It’s class to have Kenny (Alexander, owner) here as well, he missed it last year.
“She’s just incredible. She kind of decides in a race when she’s happy to go on, I haven’t stopped her from doing that yet.
“She’s just an incredible mare. The work that goes into her at home is unbelievable as well, Henry’s got a great team of staff and they deserve all the credit for this as well.”
De Bromhead said: “It’s a never-ending fairytale, I’m always trying to prepare myself for it to end and she just keeps winning. Rachael is amazing, the whole thing is a fairytale.
“It’s brilliant and no more than she deserves. If goodwill and and all the good lucks won 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 incredible.
“You just have to pinch yourself when you’re involved with a horse like her.”