Honeysuckle set to bow out in Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Rachael Blackmore


Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle will combine again at the Cheltenham Festival, but not in the Champion Hurdle.

Instead, the nine-year-old will have one last run and retire in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Honeysuckle was undefeated in 16 races under the rules before two races this winter in third and second
AFP

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The mare was 14 of 14 by the rules before last year’s Cheltenham Festival Champion Hurdle and had justified favoritism on every occasion since showing her potential in April 2018.

But recently, the horse trained by Henry De Bromhead placed in two successive races ending his incredible 16 consecutive victories.

Connections has now opted out of the Champion Hurdle this year, which is run by Constitution Hill.

The horse owned by Kenny Alexander is still offered at a huge price in the Champion Hurdle, but in the Mares’ Hurdle he is a 9/4 favorite ahead of Marie’s Rock and Brandy Love.

And through it all, Blackmore has been there aboard every win and every Rank 1 victory.

In fact, Blackmore has gradually received hrose racing recognition in recent years, particularly after his 2021 Grand National victory aboard Minella Times.

She became the first female jockey to win the race since its official inception in 1836.

This came after winning several major races in the UK in the same year: the 2021 Champion Hurdle, the Irish Champion Hurdle and a year later the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

As a result, she received the BBC Sports Personality World Sport Star of the Year award, putting her name against the biggest stars in sports.

Blackmore also became Betfair’s new ambassador and spoke about all things SPOTY, the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National.

Honeysuckle set to bow out in Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Rachael Blackmore
Blackmore first had to accept her award via video call after being delayed at Manchester Airport

The Irish jockey said: “To be honest it’s quite difficult to understand. To be on the same list as Lionel Messi, Roger Federer, Muhammad Ali, Usain Bolt, Simone Biles – that’s an amazing list. Part of me just wishes I had to physically present the award to the next recipient! »

“I remember after the Grand National – a race that I believe reaches every corner of the globe – it has a global following. I got messages from people like Billie-Jean King, Ringo Starr, and so many letters from people who didn’t even sign their name, just “A fan from Texas.”

“It really touched me the reach that the Grand National has on the world stage. It was really, really heartwarming.

“I got a lot of messages but a lot of people took the time to send cards and letters, that kind of stuff, they’re very special.

“They [Cheltenham and Dublin Racing Festival] are vital. The concentration of talent focuses everyone’s attention on the sport and they can see racing at its best. Coverage is huge across RTE and ITV as well as in all the newspapers. These are the festivals with the biggest stages where everyone wants to be successful.

Celebrate the Champion Hurdle win at Cheltenham with a takeaway pizza

Jockeys rarely have the opportunity to heal themselves nutritionally, as the scale of major festivals and racing in general requires immense dedication to diet and weight to ensure they are ready to ride multiple horses the next day and the day after.

But Blackmore told Betfair how she managed to celebrate the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle aboard Honeysuckle: “Racing is a constantly spinning wheel, there is always something to come, even the next day. I guess the Grand National win was in Covid times so that was a bit different in itself.

Honeysuckle set to bow out in Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Rachael Blackmore
Blackmore won the Grand National with a shot of 11/1 Minella Times in 2021
AFP

“In Cheltenham, after the Champion Hurdle, we got a Dominos Pizza from our accommodation and it was a party.

“At big festivals, you always seem to run the next day. Maybe there will be a big party at some point!

One thing is certain though, and that is that Honeysuckle will get a big party no matter what at the end of the Mares’ Hurdle, as the careers of Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore have been important to the race for the past few years.

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