There have been joyous scenes on day one of many Cheltenham Festival when Honeysuckle introduced the curtain down on her phenomenal profession with an emotional victory within the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.
The sparkle of Henry de Bromhead’s celebrity had seemingly been on the wane this time period and the choice was made to return the twin Champion Hurdle heroine to the race she first introduced herself in on the Festival for her swansong.
And the nine-year-old didn’t let her adoring public down by exhibiting all of the qualities which have made her one of the crucial cherished and admired mares of the trendy period.
Sent off the 9-4 joint-favourite, ever-loyal jockey Rachael Blackmore had Honeysuckle positioned in second all through, monitoring the front-running Love Envoi and though the pack swarmed as the sphere made their means down the hill, the order remained the identical till after the final.
With Love Envoi refusing to lie down, the courageous mare Honeysuckle responded to each urging of her rider to gallop up the Cheltenham hill another time, going to the underside of the nicely and digging deep to edge her strategy to a titanic one-and-a-half-length triumph.
The win gave her a fourth on the Festival and he or she indicators off as one of many all-time greats having received 17 of her 19 profession begins.
The reception afterwards mirrored not solely the efficiency of Honeysuckle however the real affection for De Bromhead and his household, who misplaced son Jack in a tragic pony racing accident in September.
De Bromhead mentioned: “It’s the fairytale ending that never normally happens. It’s incredible. I’m so happy for the mare and Rachael and Kenny (Alexander, owner) and all of us. This (reception) is what she deserves. She’s such an unbelievable mare. I’m blown away.
“We’ve had a terrible year with Jack and everything. It’s been an incredibly tough time and we’re really grateful for the support everyone has given us.
“You dream that these kind of things will happen, but more often than not they don’t. It’s the result everybody wanted, but you’d daren’t believe that it will happen.”
The County Waterford coach felt justified in permitting Honeysuckle to bow out in opposition to her personal intercourse following Constitution Hill’s breathtaking show within the Champion Hurdle earlier within the afternoon.
He added: “She’s been in great form all year and thankfully we picked the right race when you see the other lad in the Champion Hurdle!
“I was a bit worried jumping the last – I thought Love Envoi was gone on us. But Honeysuckle rarely knows when she’s beaten and she read the script.”
When requested if Honeysuckle’s racing profession was positively over, De Bromhead quipped: “I presume it is, but there is the Mares Champion Hurdle in Punchestown!
“I’ll get a few drinks into Kenny later, Peter Molony (racing manager) will be in one ear saying ‘Walk In The Park’ and I’ll be in the other saying ‘walk to Punchestown!’.”
Alexander, although, definitively confirmed his outstanding mare can be retired as he mirrored on his “best ever day in racing”.
“It’s staggering really. It’s great for Henry and his family to get that victory under their belt,” mentioned the Scotsman. “I came here more in hope than anything, but I did back her. She went to 4-1 last night, which was outrageous.
“I’ve never said she’s the greatest ever hurdler, she undoubtedly isn’t. In fact, the one before (Constitution Hill) might turn out to be, but she’s got to be one of the bravest and one of the most loved. The people here love her and the people in Ireland adore her.
“I said after Leopardstown she’s not going to win a Champion Hurdle, but if she’s still running to a level of form where she can win a Mares’, let’s go for it – and if she loses, so what?
“This is a proper send-off. I don’t want to go to Punchestown. It would be nice to do it in front of the Irish people and if they want to take her there to show her off, I’m more than happy to do that, but I don’t want to run her and go to the well once too often.
“She’s going out on a high now – nothing can match it really. Let her enjoy her retirement. One million per cent this is my best ever day in racing.”