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Horse racing-Blackmore takes second successive Champion Hurdle

Randy Mancini 6 Mar 15
Cheltenham Festival
Horse Racing - Cheltenham Festival - Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 15, 2022 Rachael Blackmore ridding Honeysuckle celebrates after winning the 15:30 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy REUTERS/Molly Darlington

March 15, 2022

CHELTENHAM, England (Reuters) – The ‘Dream Team’ of Rachael Blackmore and unbeaten mare Honeysuckle won the Champion Hurdle for the second year in a row on Tuesday as roaring crowds cranked up the volume on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The 8-11 favourite, trained by Henry de Bromhead, finished ahead of 2020 winner Epatante (16-1), ridden by Aidan Coleman, and Zanahiyr (28-1) third.

Grand National winner Blackmore last year became the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle, and the Irish rider ended up as the first woman to be the festival’s top jockey, but there was no crowd on that occasion.

That victory was behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic but on Tuesday, with packed grandstands and some 70,000 spectators in attendance, there was plenty of cheering as Honeysuckle took her 11th Grade One triumph and 15th win in 15 races.

She also become the first mare to win the Champion Hurdle twice.

“It’s better than last year, obviously, with the crowd here,” said de Bromhead. “It’s amazing. It’s like a never-ending fairytale. Just incredible.

“I just really hoped she could get that Cheltenham roar and it’s fantastic that she’s got it.

“The dream result was for her to win with the crowd here to cheer her and Rachael — it’s amazing and no more than they deserve.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Christian Radnedge)