Cheltenham Festival: Honeysuckle bows out with emotional Mares' Hurdle victory under Rachael Blackmore

Honeysuckle (9/4) beat Love Envoi and Queens Brook to win the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on her final career start for Henry de Bromhead; winner bows out with 17 career wins from 19 starts

By Calum Wilson

Image: Honeysuckle and Love Envoi battle it out in the Mares' Hurdle

Rachael Blackmore steered Honeysuckle to a fairytale and highly emotional farewell victory in the Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Henry de Bromhead's dual Champion Hurdle star, who won the race in 2020, was typically brave to outbattle Love Envoi and bring the house down at a packed Prestbury Park.

Sent off as 9/4 joint-favourite for what had been marked as Honeysuckle's final outing before retirement, the nine-year-old had it all to prove after back-to-back defeats this season in the Hatton's Grace and the Irish Champion Hurdle - the only blots on Honeysuckle's previously perfect record.

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She travelled powerfully in behind the pace and had to show every bit of her star quality to get a length and a half in front of Harry Fry's Love Envoi.

Queens Brook was four lengths further back in third ahead of Echoes In Rain for Willie Mullins.

Image: An emotional Rachael Blackmore with Honeysuckle after Mares' Hurdle glory

Honeysuckle bows out with 17 career wins from 19 starts over hurdles, including four Cheltenham Festival successes.

The victory had added emotion for De Bromhead and his team after the tragic death of the trainer's son Jack, aged 13, in November.

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Image: Henry de Bromhead punches the air as Rachael Blackmore gets a big hug from Honeysuckle's owner Kenny Alexander

De Bromhead said: "It was just incredible, the whole thing. Rachael was brilliant on her and she jumped brilliantly. She knew where she was and she read the script.

"It's an amazing way to end. To have had a mare like her is a privilege.

"It's been a really tough year and to finish like that with her is just incredible. Wherever we go, the support from the whole industry has been unbelievable."

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