‘I can’t believe we just won a Champion Hurdle’: history made on day one of Cheltenham Festival

  • Horse & Hound is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Today Rachael Blackmore made history when becoming the first lady jockey to win the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham Festival (16 March). She was aboard the mare Honeysuckle, who is trained by Irishman Henry De Bromhead and owned by Kenneth Alexander.

    “It’s absolutely incredible to win — I can’t believe we just won a Champion Hurdle,” said a virtually speechless Rachael after the race. “It’s unbelievable for everyone in the yard at home — they all work so hard.

    “Henry produces her every day in that form and I get to steer her around — it’s just incredible. She’s so straightforward to ride and when you know you have an engine under you, it’s very easy to do things in a race.”

    Henry De Bromhead, trainer of the seven year-old said after the race: “I never thought this would happen — you dream about it. She’s an amazing mare and what a partnership her and Rachael have. I thought Rachael was so cool in the race.”

    The Willie Mullins-trained Sharjah was second under Paul Townend and the Nicky Henderson-trained Epatante, who won this race last year was third under Aidan Coleman.

    Who were the 2021 Champion Hurdle runners?

    Honeysuckle | Jockey: Rachael Blackmore
    Trainer: Henry de Bromhead, Ireland
    Owner: Mr K. Alexander

    Epatante | Jockey: Aidan Coleman
    Nicky Henderson
    Mr John P. McManus

    Goshen | Jockey: J E Moore
    Gary Moore
    Mr Steven Packham

    Sharjah | Jockey: P Townend
    W. P. Mullins, Ireland
    Mrs S. Ricci

    Horse: Abacadabras | Jockey: J W Kennedy
    Mrs D Foster, Ireland
    Gigginstown House Stud

    Silver Streak | Jockey: T J O’Brien
    Evan Williams
    Mr L. Fell

    James du Berlais | Jockey: D A Jacob
    W. P. Mullins, Ireland
    Mr Simon Munir/Mr Isaac Souede

    Aspire Tower | Jockey: R M Power
    Henry de Bromhead, Ireland

    Not So Sleepy | Jockey: J J Burke
    Hughie Morrison
    Lady Blyth

    Saldier | Jockey: D E Mullins
    W. P. Mullins, Ireland
    Mrs S. Ricci

    What is the prize money for winning?

    The total prize pot for the 2021 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy is £337,500 and the winner takes home £189,912.

    Recent winners

    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.

    Continued below…

    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.

    Would you like to read Horse & Hound’s independent journalism without any adverts? Join Horse & Hound Plus today and you can read all articles on HorseandHound.co.uk completely ad-free

    You may like...