Honeysuckle and Blackmore in bloom at Fairyhouse
Last Updated: 21/04/19 5:15pm
A review of the action from the opening day of the Easter Festival at Fairyhouse as Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackore sparkled in the glorious sunshine.
Honeysuckle extended her winning run to four with an imperious display in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse.
Forced to miss Cheltenham due to a minor setback, Henry de Bromhead's five-year-old was kept in the perfect position throughout by Rachael Blackmore, just behind the front runners.
It was clear turning into the straight that nothing was travelling as well as the 6-4 favourite, who jumped clear at the second last still on the bridle.
While she was slightly awkward at the final flight, it did not halt her momentum and Honeysuckle sprinted clear to beat Elfile by five and a half lengths with Cheltenham winner Eglantine Du Seuil three lengths back in third.
After her Cheltenham Festival double, it was a first Grade One win on home soil for Blackmore.
"It was very frustrating at the time when she missed Cheltenham, but Kenny (Alexander, owner) and Peter (Molony, racing manager) said you have to do what's right for the mare, and thankfully their patience has been repaid," said De Bromhead.
"She just went a bit flat and we weren't happy with her, but she was back in good form about two weeks after Cheltenham.
"She's some five-year-old and has achieved so much already. She's won over two, two and a half and looks like she could go further again. She jumped really well today, bar one, and is a really exciting mare.
"She's in the two-and-a-half-mile novice on the Friday of Punchestown so we'll see how she is.
"Rachael said she just wanted to keep it simple. She got a lovely position and had her jumping great. I said to her beforehand that you don't need to drive on too early, but then I saw her taking a pull after the second last and said you can drive on now all right!
"It's been a phenomenal year for both of us, she's a huge part of our operation and we are very lucky to have her."
Voix Du Reve provided Willie Mullins with back-to-back successes in the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.
Subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo landed the Grade One heat in 2018, and Voix Du Reve led home stablemate Real Steel 12 months on.
It was a welcome change of fortune for owners Andrea and Graham Wylie, who sadly lost horses in both the Gold Cup and the Grand National.
Ruby Walsh had Voix Du Reve beautifully settled as Mengli Khan put the pace to the race before he dropped away ahead of the turn for home.
Real Steel had been restrained at the rear by Paul Townned and emerged as a threat at the second last, but he never looked like getting on terms.
Voix Du Reve (9-4) was kept up to his work to win by five and a half lengths.
Mullins said: "It's great for Graham Wylie, who hasn't had the luckiest of seasons, and it's nice to get a Grade One for him.
"He's a very keen horse who is probably bred to get a bit further. Now that he's relaxing a bit more in his races, he's getting a bit further.
"He was travelling well when he went in the JLT at Cheltenham, but he's got his compensation today.
"I was delighted with the way Real Steel stayed on as it looked like he wasn't appreciating the ground, but he was staying on well. He will definitely stay further.
"Both horses will go to Punchestown, all being well."
Impact Factor emerged the victor in a dramatic finish to the BoyleSports Novice Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse.
Robbie Power was primed to challenge aboard Impact Factor on the outside of the Rachael Blackmore-ridden Mind's Eye, with Denis O'Regan also trying to go up the inside of that rival on Snugsborough Hall.
However, having jumped out to his left previously, Mind's Eye dived to his right before the second last, taking Snugsborough Hall out of the race with him.
That left Jessica Harrington's Impact Factor (4-1) to come home five and a half lengths clear of Quamino.
"We might have been lucky, but Robbie thought he was going as well as anything. He's fairly wayward and he could easily have run out after them!" said Harrington.
"It's great to have a bit of luck on your side. He's had a wind op since his last run and will head to Punchestown now.
"He's talented but a typical Flemensfirth."
The meeting got off to a great start for Mark Walsh who doubled up on Galilean and Roxboro Road.
Joseph O'Brien's Galilean (4-1) sprinted clear after the last to beat odds-on favourite Mr Everest by nine lengths.
"He jumped well enough and he stays well. He probably ran to a similar level that he did the last day. It's nice to get a winner here," said O'Brien.
"He's by Galileo and likes a bit of nice ground. He'll probably step up in trip and could go to Killarney for a novice. Punchestown may come a bit soon."
Ted Walsh's Roxboro Road (6-1 co-favourite) had worn cheekpieces to win at Leopardstown last time out, but was equipped with blinkers as he won by 13 lengths in the YR Sauce Novice Handicap Hurdle.
Walsh said: "He's done it well and he found plenty with the blinds today. I thought he had his chance, but I didn't think he was as good as that.
"At home he hangs on to plenty, so that's why I stuck the blinkers on him. I had cheek pieces on him the last day. They obviously woke him up, he liked the good ground and everything fell into place.
"Hopefully he'll improve and win a good race some day. He'll go to Punchestown for the Martinstown Handicap Hurdle if he's sound and well."
Davy Russell and Gordon Elliott were on the mark with Mill Quest (14-1) in the Lauro At Hayes Stud Rated Novice Chase.
"Davy gave her a great ride. She was an outsider and hadn't shown much form this year, but bounced back great today," said Elliott.
"She won four for us last year, and has been covered by Mount Nelson."