Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle make history in Champion Hurdle victory
Rachael Blackmore became the first female jockey to win the Unibet Champion Hurdle as she guided Honeysuckle to a brilliant victory at Cheltenham.
Blackmore produced the heavily-backed 11-10 favourite to lead between the final two flights and she bounded up the hill to go on and win in impressive fashion.
Silver Streak, Not So Sleepy and Goshen were the expected pacesetters early on, with Abacadabras falling at the third flight.
As the field went out into the country, it soon became apparent Jamie Moore was having steering problems on Goshen, whose chance soon went as a result.
Honeysuckle moved forward with ease, leaving the opposition in her wake as the Henry de Bromhead-trained mare powered away to take her 100 per cent record over hurdles to 11.
The pair crossed the line six and a half lengths clear of 2020 runner-up Sharjah, with last year’s winner Epatante another three lengths away in third place.
Blackmore said: “I’m speechless, to be honest – she’s just so incredible.
“I can’t believe we’ve won a Champion Hurdle. Kenny Alexander (owner) and Peter Molony (racing manager) are both at home with their families. It’s a pity they can’t be here today.
“When Goshen headed off and then came back in I was just slightly worried, but she did everything I wanted her to do throughout the race and it’s just unbelievable.
“Henry produces her every day in that kind of form for me to just steer round. I’m so thankful to be a part of her (Honeysuckle) – it’s all about her.
“She’s getting better and improving. Her run the last day was a career-best and again today.
De Bromhead said: “It was unbelievable. She’s a very laid-back, chilled out mare – she’s amazing.
“I’m so used to mine being ridden handy away and after two or three hurdle Rachael looked really happy.
“After jumping the second-last she had to get after her and Goshen going to the right for a while was a bit worrying as well, but all in all it was probably one of the more relaxed races I’ve watched here.
“Coming down to the last you just wanted her to get over it, obviously.
“Rachael is a brilliant rider on any horse and Honeysuckle is just a brilliant horse. The combination is deadly – it’s the perfect storm.
“I’ll discuss it with Kenny and see what everyone would like to do, but I’d say there’s every chance she’ll head to Punchestown."