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Back-to-back Irish Champions as Honeysuckle hits career high

Honeysuckle (10/11 favourite) went back-to-back in the Grade One Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown to stylishly keep her career unbeaten record very much intact.

A career best was produced from the Kenny Alexander-owned and Henry de Bromhead-trained star, as Rachael Blackmore’s mount slammed Abacadabras and Sharjah by ten lengths and nine lengths.

The hugely talented daughter of Sulamani really put it to her rivals from before two out and they were soon chasing shadows. She was able to fiddle the last and the race was in the bag at that stage.

“That was brilliant, she was brilliant. It was what we hoped she'd do and she did it,” said de Bromhead.

“Rachael was brilliant on her and she's just class.

“It's lovely the way she picked up, she's not slow either, and you could see the speed of her there.

“She jumped great and she just let her fiddle the last.

“I'm very lucky to have Rachael and I've said it all before. She's just brilliant to have on the team.”

On going for the Champion Hurdle he added:-

“We'll enjoy today. We've won a Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle which is amazing.

“There is a lot of relief after that and I don't feel as sick as I did ten minutes ago.

“I'll have to speak to Kenny (Alexander) and Peter (Molony) but you'd have to feel that we'd be leaning that way (Champion Hurdle).”

When asked if that was her best performance:- “On ratings it would have been. The Hatton's Grace last season was pretty good as well. She's put in a few real good ones but that has to be up there.

“I'm very lucky that she's normally on her game but I felt I'd left her a little bit short for Fairyhouse and we didn't want to do that again.”

“She was deadly, Henry has just done an unbelievable job with her,” said Blackmore.

“She was a lot sharper today than she was the last day — she was class.

“She’s got plenty of it (pace). You can kind of do whatever you want with her.

“Today she was taking me there as opposed to me forcing her there. That’s every jockey’s dream when you can just sit against them and they are jumping from hurdle to hurdle.

“Patrick (Mullins, house-mate, 3rd on Sharjah) went to bed quite early last night actually, but there’s been plenty of slagging all week. It’s great when you’re the one that comes out on top.”

Paddy Power are now 9/4 joint favourite from 6/1 non runner no bet about Honeysuckle for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. She shares her place at the head of that market with defending champ Epatante.


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