It’s been a long, hard road for Rachael Blackmore to reach the top of her career, but the biggest win of her career – so at least far – was as easy as getting Honeysuckle sprinting between the home round and the last Flying out of their field in the champion hurdle on Tuesday, bringing their unbeaten record to a dozen wins Sent off as the 11-10 favorite, the backers knew their money was safe when she cleared the last one

While a lot of attention has inevitably drawn to Blackmore after the Champion Hurdle’s initial success for a female rider, Honeysuckle deserves great credit for an emphatic victory

Winning a champion hurdle is an accomplishment in itself It’s extraordinary – perhaps unprecedented – for a horse to do this without a single defeat, and there was every indication in Tuesday’s race that Henry de Bromheads Mare gets better with age and experience

Epatante, last year’s Champion Hurdle winner, was in third place nearly 10 lengths behind Honeysuckle, and although Goshen, the third favorite, was way below his best form on the way to the finish – actually almost impassable eighth, this was still as impressive a success as anyone else in the race in recent years

“They are such a great team, the two of them,” said De Bromhead. “They have a great relationship, but Rachael is a brilliant rider on any horse and honeysuckle is deadly. It’s a perfect storm

“Rachael is as good as any of them – male, female, she is as good as any of the boys [Honeysuckle] keeps surprising me I’m not saying I predicted that, but she is an incredible mare

“She just went to a different zone last year, she really did. She came in a very relaxed, laid-back mare and now when you walk in you need two to brush her, two to pin She’s just her. You don’t mind if they have that ability ”

Sharjah, second to Epatante 12 months ago, took the same spot again, while Goshen’s coach Gary Moore thought the left-handed stretch could have been last year’s despite his near miss against his five-year-old Triumph hurdle

“As he rounded the first corner, he dragged himself to the right,” said Moore, “and he couldn’t have made it worse if he had tried I know he was unlucky in the triumph, but I don’t think so that this track suits him, and it certainly didn’t suit him today. It was right-handed when he won so well the other day at Wincanton, and it has always been a little bit important to be left-handed ”

Honeysuckle’s win ended the first three Grade One events of the meeting with a short prize for favorites after Appreciate It and Shishkin both dominated small fields to win the Supreme Novice Hurdle and Arkle Trophy

At the starting price the treble was a little more than 4: 1, but the bookmakers were saved from further damage when Concertista barely justified the preference in the Mares’ Hurdle with a score of 10: 11

Willie Mullins seemed genuinely amazed at the ease of Appreciate It. “I couldn’t believe he won so easily,” said the coach. “It looked a little difficult on the last corner at Leopardstown [last time] , and we wondered if he had done his best job there for the year So we just brought him home, freshened him up and it seems to have worked the way he was just awesome there

“I never imagined him as the Champion Hurdle Horse, but who knows? I always had the hunt for him in mind, but then I also always had the hunt for [the former champion] Faugheen in mind, so I think we might go back to the same argument ”

Huntingdon 1235 Solwara One
110 Mackie Dee
145 Maliboo
220 Powerstown Park 255 Ray is the one
330 puppet warriors
400 Washington

Cheltenham 120 Bravemansgame (nap)
155 monkfish
230 Dysart Diamond 305 Chacun Pour Soi 340 Easysland
415 Amoola Gold (nb)
450 Kilcruit

Lingfield 130 secret treaties
205 storm melody
240 Painless Potter
315 Hit Le Bon
350 Doc Sportello
425 Renardeau
500 khatm

405 Brown supplies
440 Mrs. Benson
515 Vino Santo
545 Ridgeway Avenue
620 Torrkee
650 family fortune 720 Thai Terriers
750 Turanga Leela
820 Capote’s dream

Shishkin headed for the Grand National Meeting at Aintree after expanding his unbeaten record over fences to four races while barely getting out of a gallop

“How lucky are you?” said Nicky Henderson, his trainer, then “We survived the great days when sprinter Sacre [the Arkle] won and Altior followed him It is extraordinary to think that you can find someone else

“He looked as good as the other two today. He still has a long way to go before he gets in the same breath, but you couldn’t have asked him anymore today”

Rachael Blackmore

World News – GB – Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle storm to historic Champion Hurdle victory