The remarkable Honeysuckle extended his unbeaten record to 16 with another imperious display in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.
Henry of Bromhead’s superstar mare enjoyed another faultless campaign, winning a third Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse before successfully defending her crown in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Unsurprisingly, the eight-year-old was priceless to do the same on her return to County Kildare and eventually clinched 1-5 odds with the minimum of fuss at the hands of Rachael Blackmore, beating Echoes In Rain by three lengths.
Saint Roi took the six-man peloton for much of the two-mile ride before Honeysuckle moved on to complete his challenge keeping his back straight.
Just for a moment it looked like she might have a real race on her hands, with Saint Roi still traveling pretty well in the lead and stablemate Echoes In Rain looming in Honeysuckle’s exterior mirrors as they turned the house tower.
But once straightened out, Blackmore’s mount found another gear to put the race to bed and as it slowed and spun left skipping the final flight, it resumed lapping and came home with three lengths in hand, much to the delight of the vast majority of spectators in the crowded stands.
Echoes In Rain finished second, with Grand National and Gold Cup winner Robbie Power finishing last of six aboard Teahupoo in his last race before retirement.
Power received a warm welcome from racing fans as he returned to the unsaddling area before Honeysuckle drove bettors wild after returning to the winner’s enclosure for a deserved cheer.
Blackmore said: “She’s incredibly talented, I’m so lucky to be on her back. We’re all lucky to be a part of who she is, she’s a phenomenally talented mare. She always does that. she has to do, and that’s an incredible feat in any horse.
“As a jockey you dream of riding a good horse, that’s what every jockey wants – you can’t achieve the big days without it. But she takes it to another level – she blows good horses out water. I’m very lucky to ride it.
“Henry does a job with her producing her like that every day. She was brilliant. It’s a good team at home that makes these days so good and it’s important to have that.
“When we arrived I had to ask her for this equipment and she found it and we left. She just does what she has to do. I can always feel when something is happening because she can feel it too and she kicks on.
“It was (the welcome) magical.”