Cheltenham Festival 2023: Fairytale ending as Honeysuckle wins Mares’ Hurdle in final race


Honeysuckle bowed out in the style as she won the Mares’ Hurdle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The two-time Champion Hurdle winner teamed up with Rachael Blackmore for one last ride, looking to make it four from four at Prestbury Park, and did just that after a final push up the hill to get past Love Envoi.

It was a fairytale ending to a remarkable career, and an emotional Blackmore paid tribute to Jack de Bromhead in her post-race interview. The 13-year-old, son of Honeysuckle trainer Henry, died after a fall in a race last year.

“We all wish a very special kid could be here today but he’s looking down on her,” Blackmore said.

“As a jockey I am so grateful, she’s just phenomenal and been so important for my career. She’s just a credit to anyone. A brilliant day.”

It was De Bromhead’s first winner of the Festival, and there will surely not be a more popular one all week. Honeysuckle was roared into a packed enclosure, with her trainer punching the air in delight as he celebrated a a perfect finale.

“It’s the fairytale ending that doesn’t normally happen,” De Bromead told BBC.

“I am so happy for everyone. You dream of it but this is what she deserves. She is an unbelievable mare. She is so special.

“I think we have had a terrible year with Jack but the support everyone has given us we are really grateful for that.”

Owner Kenny Alexander added: “She’s not the greatest Champion Hurdler ever but she’s one of the bravest. She has guts and is incredibly talented.

“She had to dig deep today. I am really happy for Henry and his family.”