Winning machine Honeysuckle can still do no wrong

Despite running out of gas the unbeaten mare still had enough to win the Punchestown Champion Hurdle

Friday, April 30, 2021

Honeysuckle survived a late scare to win for the 12th time under Rules

Water is wet, grass is green and Honeysuckle is a superstar horse of the highest quality, writes Bradley West.

As expected, Henry de Bromhead’s marvellous mare made it 12 from 12 at the Punchestown Festival with victory in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

But, that doesn’t even tell half the story of a very different victory for the still unbeaten seven-year-old – who is the highest rated hurdler in Britain and Ireland.

Having been the talk of racing after rewriting the record books together at Cheltenham and Aintree, De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore have been conspicuous by their absence from the winner’s enclosure this week.

And their sure thing almost let them down, as Honeysuckle suddenly felt the weight of her sensational season at the last.

But, she’s a winning machine and knows nothing else – holding on to beat Sharjah by just over two lengths.

“I’m just trying to tell myself she wins every day and why’s tomorrow going to be any different, I was trying to be as confident as I could and thankfully it worked out,” Blackmore said.

“She [Honeysuckle] is some woman to get me out of trouble. I just committed her I think far too soon and we didn’t have a lot of petrol at the last but she dug deep and pulled it out the bag as she always does.

“Even going down to the start she didn’t grab the bit in her mouth as much as Cheltenham, she was just feeling it today but the very good ones still deliver.

“She jumped the third last and the second last well and she’s just delivered on the day, she got the job done.

“It’s a pressure I want, I don’t think I enjoy it [riding tough horses]. I am firmly going to just picture her eating grass in a field somewhere.”

Blackmore’s hopes of winning the Champion Jockey crown may have disappeared with a disappointing week but Honeysuckle delivered when needed to put a smile back on her face.

That took her tally to 92 for the season and capped a quite unbelievable few months for the glass ceiling-shattering jockey.

And yes, even now it still hasn’t sunk in.

“It’s just been unbelievable,” Blackmore added. “At least once a day someone this week has said ‘well done at Aintree’ and it hits me.

“Jesus, I won the Grand National. It’s still sinking in now.”

Blackmore is not the only one to have changed the game of late, De Bromhead having broken records himself too.

And as he added yet more success, albeit under significantly more pressure, he praised another amazing horse under his care.

“It was brilliant,” De Bromhead said. 

“You’d obviously always be under pressure when she’s running but we weren’t having an amazing week so far.

“She always gets us out of trouble. She’s amazing. I’m delighted for everybody involved. With her she’s just so good, but it’s [Honeysuckle losing] going to happen one day, [or] maybe not!

“She’s just got such a will to win, Rachael’s so good on her. She’s been brilliant for us and I’m very lucky to have her.”

“It certainly started to cross my mind alright [being caught at the last] but thankfully Rachael had it all under control.

“[It’s been] An amazing season and it’s brilliant to get that.”

She is some woman to get me out of trouble.

- Rachael Blackmore

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