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Punchestown Festival: Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore capture Champion Hurdle

Honeysuckle and Blackmore pulled away on the run-in to score by two and a quarter lengths
Honeysuckle and Blackmore pulled away on the run-in to win by two and a quarter lengths

Honeysuckle capped a brilliant campaign by stretching her unbeaten record to 12 in the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.

Henry de Bromhead’s mare followed up her victory at Cheltenham with another convincing display in which she was partnered by Grand National-winning jockey Rachael Blackmore.

After jumping the second-last flight, the 4-7 favourite put daylight between herself and her rivals.

Despite slowing towards the last fence, she steadied to hold off Sharjah.

Honeysuckle pulled away on the run-in to win by two and a quarter lengths, while Epatante was 10 lengths away in third in a repeat of the positions in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

The mare’s odds were cut to 2-1 favourite from 11-4 to defend her Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham next spring.

“It’s 100% relief – I nearly threw it away at the last,” said Blackmore, who has partnered Honeysuckle on 11 of her 12 consecutive victories.

“She was feeling the season a little bit I think, but she’s just phenomenal. I wasn’t as comfortable throughout the race on her today, but still she just delivers.

“Real stars get jockeys out of trouble. I did sleep last night – sleeping is never a bother.”

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