‘To win is unreal’: Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle win 2022 Cheltenham Festival Champion Hurdle

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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.

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