Honeysuckle Set For Punchestown Assignment


Superstar mare Honeysuckle put her name in Cheltenham festival folklore by becoming one of the few mares to land the Champion Hurdle and Rachael Blackmore became the first female jockey to do the same.

She has been a star for the yard over the last three years and on all four of her starts last term had been pretty much faultless by winning twice at Fairyhouse including in the Grade One Hatton's Grace Hurdle, she then narrowly stayed on to take the Irish Champion Hurdle before landing her first Cheltenham festival winner when seeing off Benie Des Dieux in the Mares Hurdle.

Overall the Kenneth Alexander-owned six-year-old has claimed 12 wins in a row, if including her point to point race aswell and this season she picked up from where she left off.

She headed to Fairyhouse on her seasonal debut in defence of her Hatton's Grace title and in gritty and determined fashion she managed to hold on close to the line.

Given some time to improve for that run, she then went back to Leopardstown to defend her Irish Champion Hurdle title and in emphatic style she landed the event by 10 lengths.

That was arguably one of the performances of the season and with her jumping quicker and showing clear speed over two miles.

This set her up perfectly for the Champion Hurdle and on the morning of the race she started at 3/1 and was backed into 11/10 favourite.

She obliged under a superb ride by Rachael Blackmore to make festival history and she truly is a mare of a lifetime.

Her trainer Henry De Bromhead is now looking ahead to the future with his seven year old and he is “leaning towards” giving Honeysuckle her final outing of the season in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.

(Credit ATR) “Honeysuckle certainly appears to be going from strength to strength and was brilliant in Cheltenham, so it would be great to be able to go to Punchestown for the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, all being well,” said De Brohmead.

“I spoke to Peter Molony (owner Kenny Alexander’s racing manager) over the weekend and without saying for sure, we’d certainly be leaning towards Punchestown if we get the right signals between now and then.

“She seems good, really well and we’re delighted with her. We’ll just let her settle back in and just start tipping away with her again. We’ll just have to see and get a feel for her over the coming weeks and she’ll tell us how she is.

“Each horse is different and there’s no set routine after a race, we’ll let her tell us. She is having a well-earned rest and we’ll pick things up again when she is ready.

“We also have Aspire Tower who will be aimed at the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle. He ran a blinder at Cheltenham to be fourth. We were delighted with him. He is only five, but has made the transition from juvenile to open company very well and he will be aimed at Punchestown as well.”