Punchestown Festival – Rachael Blackmore rides Honeysuckle to Champion Hurdle triumph – SPORT NEWS PEDIA

horse-racing, Punchestown Festival - Rachael Blackmore rides Honeysuckle to Champion Hurdle triumph, sport

Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle achieved another big-race success as the star mare won a second successive Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

After another dominant Champion Hurdle triumph at Cheltenham, Honeysuckle was a 1-5 favourite to extend her perfect race record to 16 wins.

The Henry de Bromhead-trained mare finished three lengths clear of Willie Mullins’ 18-1 shot Echoes In Rain.

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Joseph O’Brien’s Darasso was third with another Mullins horse Saint Roi fourth.

Blackmore’s victory in the big race on day four of the Punchestown Festival continued her incredible season after a Cheltenham double, when she added Gold Cup success on A Plus Tard to her Champion Hurdle triumph with Honeysuckle – in addition to achieving a third straight Irish Champion Hurdle win in February.

Saint Roi, who was a 12-1 shot, went off at a good gallop, but Blackmore bided her time in third place, some five lengths off the pace before taking the lead at the second last.

Echoes In Rain, ridden by Paul Townend, was only a length behind at the final hurdle, but Honeysuckle pulled away with the minimum of fuss to clinch her latest Grade One triumph.

Darasso, ridden by Luke Dempsey, was priced at 33-1 as he completed the first three, while Grand National and Gold Cup-winning jockey Robbie Power finished last of the six aboard Teahupoo on his final ride before retirement.

Power received a warm reception as he made his way back to the unsaddling area before Honeysuckle returned to the winner’s enclosure to deserved acclaim from a record crowd of 40,984.

Blackmore said: “She’s incredibly talented, I’m so lucky to be on her back.

“As a jockey you dream of getting on a good horse, that’s what every jockey wants – you can’t achieve on the big days without that. But she takes it to another level. She blows good horses out of the water.”

Honeysuckle’s connections have indicated that the mare will be kept in training for next season to chase further Grade One triumphs.

In Friday’s other Grade One, Willie Mullins’ County Hurdle winner at Cheltenham State Man secured a dominant victory in the Champion Novice Hurdle as the 11-10 favourite.

With in-form Paul Townend on board, State Man finished seven lengths clear of 8-1 shot Flame Bearer with Three Stripe Life third at 11-4.

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