A self-deprecating Rachael Blackmore was eager to heap praise on the remarkable Honeysuckle after the magnificent mare enabled the 31-year-old to become the first woman to win the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. 

The 10-11 market leader powered effortlessly clear of her rivals to score in the hands of Blackmore for trainer Henry de Bromhead

Blackmore recorded her first Grade One win on Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Festival in 2019, with seven of her subsequent 12 victories at the top level coming on the unbeaten daughter of Sulamani. 

The Champion Hurdle, over a trip that many feared was short of her best, was meant to provide the sternest test of Honeysuckle's career. However, her supporters never had a moment's worry, with Blackmore keen to play down her role in the success. 

"I'm very good to steer," Blackmore quipped when interviewed on RTÉ's Game On.

"My steering has always been good when it came to Honeysuckle."

Racing may be an unusual sport in that female competitors – equine and human – serve up to the boys and regularly get the better of them. But Blackmore recognised that her gender was likely to dominate plenty of the headlines. 

"For me personally, my gender wasn't the first thing that came into my head, but I understand it's probably a bigger deal in the wider world," she said. 

"For me to cross the line and to have a small realisation that I'd just won a Champion Hurdle was incredible. She keeps surprising me. 

"She really stepped it up the last day. In the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle she was incredible and her performance today was another step up. Her last two wins have been more impressive. 


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"She's getting slicker at her jumping, everything is just tying in and she's doing things easier in her races."

While a number of her Champion Hurdle rivals hugged the rails on their mounts, Blackmore was content to sit wider out for much of the trip.

"I was happy where I was," she said. "I knew I was going to line up wide with her. 

"I was hoping I wouldn't end up four or five horses wide if they were congested inside me, but I was happy with where I was. When you are on something with an engine like she has you can move yourself forward or back whenever you want."

With no family ties to the industry, Blackmore rise to the top has surprised many, herself included. 

"People have dreams," she said. "What happened today was so far removed from a reality I could even dream about. It's incredible. 

"When I was an amateur, I dreamed about riding at Cheltenham. That was an aspiration I had. 

"Then to ride a winner there, and then to come and win a Champion Hurdle – it's different."