Honeysuckle wins third Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown for Rachael Blackmore

Rachael Blackmore on Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle will defend her Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham next month

Honeysuckle claimed a third consecutive victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Rachael Blackmore rode the 1-5 favourite to a 14th consecutive career success by six and a half lengths.

On day two of the Dublin Racing Festival, Henry de Bromhead's eight-year-old mare won from 6-1 shot Zanahiyr, with Echoes In Rain (25-1) third and Saint Roi (12-1) fourth.

De Bromhead said: "I'm delighted. Aren't we lucky to have her?"

Bookmakers were hit as Honeysuckle was among the first six favourites to all win, including a Grade One treble for trainer Willie Mullins with Galopin Des Champs, Chacun Pour Soi and Sir Gerhard.

"I've never got a reception like that cantering to the start. It's incredible," said Blackmore.

"I had chills through my veins cantering down to the start listening to everyone. It's fantastic to be involved in it all. She's an unbelievable mare."

The early pace was set by Heaven Help Us, with Zanahiyr, who made a bad mistake at the first hurdle, close up in second place.

But Honeysuckle moved supremely into the lead and put several lengths between herself and the others to quickly put the race to bed.

De Bromhead was delighted with both the horse - now set to defend her Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham on 15 March - and rider Blackmore.

"Brilliant, they were great again, the pair of them," said the trainer.

"She looked great, jumped well I thought throughout. She maybe went a little bit left at one of them, but winged the second-last and took off again.

"It felt a long straight after the last, but she was brilliant."

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