We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.


Emotional scenes in Cheltenham as Rachael Blackmore dedicates win to the late Jack De Bromhead

Magnificent mare bows with fourth Cheltenham Festival success.

THERE WERE JOYOUS scenes on day one of the Cheltenham Festival when Honeysuckle brought the curtain down on her phenomenal career with an emotional victory in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.

henry-de-bromhead-celebrates-honeysuckle-winning-the-race Henry De Bromhead celebrates after the race. Tom Maher / INPHO Tom Maher / INPHO / INPHO

The sparkle of Henry de Bromhead’s superstar had seemingly been on the wane this term and the decision was made to return the dual Champion Hurdle heroine to the race she first announced herself in at the Festival for her swansong.

And the nine-year-old did not let her adoring public down by showing all the qualities that have made her one of the most loved and admired mares of the modern era.

rachael-blackmore-celebrates-winning-the-the-close-brothers-mares-hurdle-aboard-honeysuckle-on-day-one-of-the-cheltenham-festival-at-cheltenham-racecourse-picture-date-tuesday-march-14-2023 Rachael Blackmore celebrates winning the Mares Hurdle. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Sent off the 9-4 joint-favourite, ever-loyal jockey Rachael Blackmore had Honeysuckle positioned in second throughout tracking the front-running Love Envoi and although the pack swarmed as the field made their way down the hill, the order remained the same until after the last.

With Love Envoi refusing to lie down, the brave mare Honeysuckle responded to every urging of her rider to gallop up the Cheltenham hill one more time, going to the bottom of the well and digging deep to edge her way to a titanic one-and-a-half-length triumph.

The victory gave her a fourth victory at the Festival and she signs off as one of the all-time greats having won 17 of her 19 career starts.

The reception the de Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle and Blackmore received raised the volume afterwards, few have been accorded such acclamation at this famous old amphitheatre.

Of course, the weight of feeling was for De Bromhead, who has faced a horror no father or family should face, when tragically his 13-year-old son, Jack, died following a pony racing accident last summer.

Emotions were understandably hard to check, and especially for Blackmore who has been deeply affected by the tragedy.

Her first thoughts after the length-and-a-half success were with Jack.

She said: “We all wish a very special kid could be here today. He’s watching down on us.”

After taking a deep breath, she paid tribute to Honeysuckle, who had carried her to victory in the Champion Hurdle in 2021, making history as the first female rider to win the race.

“It was unbelievable,” she said. “The way Henry has produced her every day has been phenomenal.

“I’m so grateful. She is just a phenomenal mare. I knew I’d pick up again after the last but she is just an unbelievable mare.

“It is incredible what she has done for me, but it is incredible what she has done for all of us. You dream of being involved with something like her. It is just amazing and fair play to Henry he has done such an unbelievable job.

“What a way to be able to walk back in the winner’s enclosure today. I feel extremely lucky to have teamed up with her throughout my career.

“You come to Cheltenham with Honeysuckle to ride and every jockey dreams of having the likes of her to go to Cheltenham with. She has given us so much and I’m so grateful to her. It will be different without her here next year.”

De Bromhead expressed his gratitude after for the support his family have received.

The Journal publishes the biggest breaking news in Irish and international sport but for all of The 42′s insightful analysis and sharp sportswriting, subscribe here.

Press Association
Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel