‘She’s the one to beat’ – bullish Rachael Blackmore confident Honeysuckle will reign again at Dublin Racing Festival

BULLISH Rachael Blackmore insists Honeysuckle is still ‘the one to beat’ in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

The wondermare suffered her first ever defeat in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse last December.

AFPBlackmore insists Honeysuckle ‘couldn’t be better’ and is still the one they all have to beat in the Irish Champion Hurdle on Sunday[/caption]

But she will bid to match the legendary Istrabraq by winning a fourth Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Blackmore says she has figured out why Honeysuckle was pipped by winner Teahupoo and runner-up Klassical Dream before Christmas.

The Grand National heroine, a new ambassador for Betfair, said a combination of strong rivals and that trip on that ground worked against her.

But she is adamant that won’t be the case on Sunday.

Blackmore said: “She’s unbeaten at Leopardstown and I feel like in the Hatton’s Grace, the trip and the ground in that combination was not a help to her.

“Both of those things are different on Sunday.


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“I wouldn’t be underestimating her in any shape or form.

“She’s the one they all have to come and beat.”

Honeysuckle’s biggest opposition in a red-hot renewal looks to be State Man.

Willie Mullins’ charge is evens with Betfair while Honeysuckle is 6-4.

This is the first time since Honeysuckle beat Benie Des Dieux in the Mares’ Hurdle in March 2020 she is not currently favourite in the betting.

Blackmore insists she pays no attention to the odds and knows what her horse can do.

She added: “I’m on her back and I have full confidence in her.

“If I had lost the faith in Honeysuckle it would be a very poor reflection of what we’ve achieved.

“She’s in really good form, she couldn’t be any better. Henry (De Bromhead, trainer) is delighted with her so it’s full steam ahead.”

Ruby Walsh suggested we might not see Honeysuckle at next month’s Cheltenham Festival if she is soundly beaten on Sunday.

But Blackmore is not having any of it.

She said: “She’s been just incredible for my career, every jockey has a dream of getting to ride something like her.

“I’m so lucky to have that association with her.

“As for when it ends, we know it’s not going to go past this season.

“In all walks of life I don’t look too far ahead. My main focus is on Sunday, getting over that, then we’ll look to the next thing.

“I don’t worry myself with things that are too far down the line.”


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