28 Nov 2021

Tipperary jockey's historic mount Honeysuckle will return to the track at Fairyhouse

Mare will try to win Hatton’s Grace Hurdle for a third straight year

Rachael Blackmore

Tipperary's Rachael Blackmore has ridden Honeysuckle to her famous triumphs

The Kenny Alexander-owned Honeysuckle is among the star entries for the three Grade 1 races on the second day of the Winter Festival at Fairyhouse on Sunday, November 28.

A quartet of Willie Mullins-trained horses head the opposition to Henry de Bromhead’s unbeaten mare as she bids to emulate the late Solerina and Apple’s Jade and win the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle for a third straight year.

Honeysuckle is a six-time winner at Fairyhouse, and she brought her winning tally to 12 when adding to her famous Champion Hurdle success at the Cheltenham Festival in March in the Punchestown equivalent the following month.

The horse helped Tipperary woman Rachael Blackmore create history at Cheltenham when she became the first woman to ride the winner of the Champion Hurdle.

She beat Sharjah to the post on both of those occasions and his trainer Willie Mullins has entered a team of four in a bid to lower her colours for the first time. Leading the champion trainer’s assault is the four-time Grade 1 winner Klassical Dream, which defied a 16-month lay-off to win the Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown in April.

One with more recent winning form is the dual Grade 1 winner Saldier, which won the Guinness Galway Hurdle during the summer and followed up with a clear-cut victory in the Grade 3 Horse and Jockey Hotel Hurdle at Tipperary a month ago. The mares - both Grade 2 winners at Fairyhouse - Burning Victory, winner of the 2020 Triumph Hurdle, and Stormy Ireland, a top-level winner at the Punchestown Festival, make up the Mullins quartet.

Gordon Elliott trained Apple's Jade to win the race in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and he has made five entries, with Zanahiyr leading the way after his impressive return to action at Down Royal last weekend. Abacadabras, winner of last season’s Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle and Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle is another possible for the Cullentra yard along with Grand Roi, dual Cheltenham Festival winner Sire Du Berlais and Teahupoo, twice a winner at Fairyhouse at the beginning of this year.

Ronald Pump pushed Honeysuckle all the way to the line in last year’s renewal and he has been entered by trainer Matthew Smith while Peter Fahey’s chances could be carried by another three-time Fairyhouse winner, Royal Kahala.

Shark Hanlon’s Skyace, winner of the Grade 1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in April; Noel Meade’s Cheltenham Festival, Fairyhouse Easter Festival and Punchestown festival winner Jeff Kidder and the Paul Nolan-trained Latest Exhibition, a Grade 1 novice hurdle winner at Leopardstown, also feature among the 19 entries.

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