‘It’s like a never-ending fairytale’: History made as Honeysuckle becomes the first mare to win two Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham

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  • This afternoon (15 March) Honeysuckle put herself firmly into the record books when becoming the first mare to win two Champion Hurdle titles at the Cheltenham Festival, adding to her first victory in 2021.

    The eight-year-old mare, who is owned by Kenneth (‘Kenny’) Alexander, trounced her nine rivals to come home three-and-a-half lengths clear under top jockey Rachael Blackmore, for trainer Henry De Bromhead.

    “It’s incredible to win – I’m so lucky to ride winners here and especially on this mare,” said Rachael after the race. “It’s amazing to have crowds here too, as opposed to last year when there weren’t any [owing to Covid restrictions], and also great to have Kenny here too.

    “Honeysuckle is an amazing mare and she decides in a race when she’s happy to go and I haven’t stopped her from doing that yet! There’s a lot of work that goes into her at home and the team there deserve all the credit for this.”

    CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 15: Rachel Blackmore on Honeysuckle pose for a photo after winning The Unibet Champion Hurdle race during day one of the Cheltenham Festival 2022 at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 15, 2022 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

    This victory means Honeysuckle remains unbeaten, and her winning streak has extended to a remarkable 15 races. The crowd showed their appreciation for this wonder mare’s outstanding achievements, which include 11 Grade One wins, with rapturous scenes around the racecourse.

    “To win is unreal and it was incredible to get the roar from the crowd,” said trainer Henry. “And to have her owners here is brilliant. It’s a never-ending fairytale.”

    Owner Kenny said: “I’m very relieved and Henry deserves enormous credit – he’s a lovely guy to have train my horse and Rachael absolutely smashed it.”

    Former top jockey Ruby Walsh shared his evaluation of the race on ITV Racing, saying: “Rachael was riding to win and it was brilliant to watch. Honeysuckle has got speed and she jumps – she’s a phenomenal horse. These two are proper superstars.”

    Fellow mare Epatante ran a great race to finish second under Aidan Coleman for trainer Nicky Henderson and owner JP McManus, while Zanahiyr, trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Jack Kennedy, was third for owners Bective Stud.

    About the Champion Hurdle

    The Cheltenham Champion Hurdle is a Grade One National Hunt hurdle race, run over two miles and half a furlong with eight flights of hurdles to jump. The race is held on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival in March, which runs from Tuesday-Friday, and a massive highlight of the National Hunt season.

    When is the 2022 Champion Hurdle?

    The race started at 3.30pm on Tuesday 15 March.

    How to watch the Champion Hurdle

    If you’re looking forward to settling down the watch the race from home at 3.30pm on Tuesday 15 March, then don’t miss our armchair viewing guide, which includes how to watch the Champion Hurdle on TV and much more.

    What is the prize money for winning?

    The winner of the 2022 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy will take home £253,215.

    Who were the runners in the 2022 race?

    Horse: Honeysuckle | Jockey: Rachael Blackmore
    Trainer: Henry de Bromhead

    Appreciate It| Jockey: Paul Townend
    Willie Mullins

    Teahupoo |Jockey: Robbie Power
    Gordon Elliott

    Epatante | Jockey: Aidan Coleman
    Nicky Henderson

    Adagio | Jockey: Tom Scudamore
    David Pipe

    Zanahiyr | Jockey: Jack Kennedy
    Gordon Elliott

    Tommy’s Oscar | Jockey: Danny McMenamin
    Ann Hamilton

    Saint Roi | Jockey: Mark Walsh
    W P Mullins

    Glory And Fortune | Jockey: Stan Sheppard
    Tom Lacey

    Not So Sleepy | Jockey: Jonathan Burke
    Hughie Morrison

    Recent winners

    2022: Honeysuckle
    2021: Honeysuckle – read the race report
    2020: Epitante – read the race report
    2019: Espoir D’Allen – read the race report
    2018: Buveur D’Air – read the race report
    2017: Buveur D’Air – read the race report
    2016: Annie Power – read the race report
    2015: Faugheen – read the race report
    2014: Jezki – read the race report
    2013: Hurricane Fly – read the race report
    2012: Rock On Ruby – read the race report
    2011: Hurricane Fly – read the race report

    Winning-most trainer, horse, jockey and owner

    The all-time leading Champion Hurdle trainer is Nicky Henderson, who has so far won it a total of eight times, thanks to See You Then (1985, 1986, 1987), Punjabi (2009), Binocular (2010), Beveur D’Air (2017, 2018) and Epatante (2020). Five horses have won three Champion Hurdles, which is the current record. These are Hatton’s Grace (1949-51), Sir Ken (1952-54), Persian War (1968-70), See You Then and Istabraq (1998-2000). Three jockeys have won the race four times, which sits at the current record. These are Tim Molony, Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty. And the leading Cheltenham Gold Cup owner, J. P. McManus, has so far won it nine times  – three times with Istabraq, as well as with Binocular, Jezki (2014) and Beveur D’Air.

    The history of the Champion Hurdle

    The Champion Hurdle is the most prestigious hurdle race in the calendar. The race was first to run in 1927. That inaugural race was won by Blaris, earning connections £365.

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