Henry and Heather de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore celebrate the victory of Honeysuckle in the Mares’ Hurdle. Photos: Inpho.
There were incredible scenes on day one of the Cheltenham Festival this afternoon as Honeysuckle brought the curtain down on her phenomenal career with an emotional victory in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.
The sparkle of Henry de Bromhead’s superstar had seemingly been on the wane this term and the decision was made to return the dual Champion Hurdle heroine to the race she first announced herself in at the Festival for her swansong.
And the nine-year-old did not let her adoring public down by showing all the qualities that have made her one of the most loved and admired mares of the modern era.
Sent off the 9-4 joint-favourite, ever-loyal jockey Rachael Blackmore had Honeysuckle positioned in second throughout tracking the front-running Love Envoi and although the pack swarmed as the field made their way down the hill, the order remained the same until after the last.
With Love Envoi refusing to lie down, the brave mare Honeysuckle responded to every urging of her rider to gallop up the Cheltenham hill one more time, going to the bottom of the well and digging deep to edge her way to a titanic one-and-a-half-length triumph.
Rachael Blackmore onboard Honeysuckle celebrates winning the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.
The victory gave her a fourth victory at the Festival and she signs off as one of the all-time greats having won 17 of her 19 career starts.
The scenes in the parade ring as she returned have rarely if ever been scene at Prestbury Park and it was plain for all to see just what this meant to Rachael, Henry, Heather, Kenny and everyone involved with this remarkable mare and the de Bromhead team who of course have had a very tough few months after they lost their son Jack last September.
Here’s what Henry had to say after to Racing TV….