Rachael Blackmore shows why she is the queen of Cheltenham when winning the Champion Hurdle for the second year in a row

The Henry de Bromhead-trained eight-year-old, who was sent off the 8-11 favourite, took up the running turning for home and powered three and a half lengths clear of 2020 winner Epatante and Zanahiyr. 
Rachael Blackmore shows why she is the queen of Cheltenham when winning the Champion Hurdle for the second year in a row

Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore won the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) .

Honeysuckle extended her unbeaten record to 15 when winning the Champion Hurdle for the second time under Rachael Blackmore on day one of Cheltenham. 

The Henry de Bromhead-trained eight-year-old, who was sent off the 8-11 favourite, took up the running turning for home and powered three and a half lengths clear of 2020 winner Epatante and Zanahiyr. 

There was a real resurgence by the English as they claimed a 4-3 lead in the Presbury Cup.

It was a perfect way to start the week for the winning trainer Henry De Bromhead who said: "The pair of them are awesome. I thought Epatante was going to come and do us. 

"We dreamt of her getting a Cheltenham welcome and she's going to get it. It's just unbelievable.

”Everything went right for her but I saw Aidan [Coleman] lurking on Epatante in behind, and she's a class mare too. 

"I actually can't she's done it again. It's a joy to train her. We're blessed to have her. We feel extremely lucky to train her as she's absolutely incredible."

Honeysuckle and Blackmore received a rapturous reception from the Cheltenham crowd. 

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

It was an 11th Grade 1 for Honeysuckle, who landed the Champion Hurdle last season from Sharjah, and her 15th win under Blackmore who said: "It's just incredible. 

"Walking out there in front of the stands with all the people – this is such a special place and I'm so lucky to be riding winners here.

”She's just an incredible mare. She decides when she's happy to go and I haven't stopped her from doing that yet. 

"She's unbelievable and so much work goes into her at home. Henry has a massive team of staff and they deserve all the credit for this victory as well."

Paul Townend had a frustrating day and was chinned in the Boodles after his mount kept jumping out to his right.

Eventually Brazil and Mark Walsh edged him by a short head in a photo finish. 

Statler brought the day to a happy conclusion for the Irish by taking the National Hunt Chase is style.

All the talk of Irish domination was silence pretty quickly as the English won the opening three races. 

Constitution Hill looks a superstar for the future after he blitzed the field in the opening Supreme Novice Hurdle. 

The home team had been routed by Ireland, 23 winners to five, over the four days of the meeting last year. 

But Henderson provided two of those British successes and struck again 12 months on as Constitution Hill maintained his unbeaten record over hurdles. 

Keen-going Irish raider Dysart Dynamo made the running and was still in front when he fell three out under Paul Townend.

Jockeys Nico de Boinville on Constitution Hill and Aidan Coleman on Jonbon (right) ahead of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle during day one of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Jockeys Nico de Boinville on Constitution Hill and Aidan Coleman on Jonbon (right) ahead of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle during day one of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse.

That left Henderson's Jonbon and Aidan Coleman in front but he was headed at the next by his stablemate, who powered home for a most decisive success. 

This was an extraordinary performance as the 9-4 joint favourite won by an official 22 lengths from Jonbon, with Kilcruit another two and a half lengths back in third. 

He smashed the course record with a winning time of 3min 44.35 seconds, which was 4.65seconds quicker than Racing Post standard. Constitution Hill earned a quote of just 3-1 for next year's Champion Hurdle from Paddy Power.

Edwardstone won the Arkle in some style for Alan King as the Irish challenge petered away in the race. 

The Ultima went to Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell as Corach Rambler came from not another parish to claim the first handicap of the week. Nicky Henderson completed a double as Maria’s Rock completed for the legendary trainer in the Mares Hurdle. 

It was a messy race with Tellmesomethinggirl and Rachael Blackmore being brought down while travelling very well.

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