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Posted 2022-03-16 08:22:34  
Honeysuckle thrills Cheltenham Again

Honeysuckle brought the house down at Cheltenham as she took her unbeaten tally to 15 with another imperious performance in the Unibet 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.


Honeysuckle received a rapturous reception following her victory, with De Bromhead delighted to see the public pay the mare her due respect.

He said: "It's better than last year, obviously, with the crowd here, with Kenny (Alexander, owner) and (his wife) Caroline, with everybody. It's amazing. It's like a never-ending fairytale - just incredible.

"I just really hoped she could get that Cheltenham roar and it's fantastic that she's got it.

"She got it in the Mares' (Hurdle in 2020), but for this as she missed out last year. It's brilliant for everybody, our team, just everybody.

"Rachael was obviously sublime and I can't believe it - as usual!

"She's amazing and we're so lucky to have her."

De Bromhead admitted he had felt more pressure this year ahead of Honeysuckle's title defence.

He added: "I did (feel the pressure a bit more), with the crowds and the build up, so it's just amazing. The dream result was for her to win with the crowd here to cheer her and Rachael - it's amazing and no more than they deserve."

Blackmore - who made history last year when becoming the first woman ride the winner of the Champion Hurdle - said: "It's just incredible. Walking out there in front of the stand with all the people, it's just such a special place.

"I'm so lucky to be riding winners here and on this mare. It's class to have Kenny 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."

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