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PART ONE | THIS TIME TWO WEEKS AGO: Watch as Honeysuckle reigns Queen of the two-mile hurdlers at the Cheltenham Festival

Honeysuckle maintained her unbeaten record with a second Cheltenham Festival win in the Champion Hurdle two weeks ago

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Rachael Blackmore riding Honeysuckle clear the last to win The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy during day one of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. Picture date: Tuesday March 16, 2021.

Times flies – and it’s been two entire weeks since the Cheltenham Festival begun. 14 days ago, the talk was all about one horse: Honeysuckle.

As the virtual roar greeted us from our sofas for the start of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the anticipation on day one steered towards the feature race, the Champion Hurdle.

Billed as a battle of the top 3, Honeysuckle headed the market over last year’s winner Epatante and Goshen, who was in receipt of 7lbs to both of the superstar mares.

Honeysuckle ridden by Rachael Blackmore following victory in the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle on day one of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham.
2020 Mares’ Hurdle winner Honeysuckle was sent off an 11/10 favourite in the Champion Hurdle

But as much of the week turned out, Ireland would dominate the affair as Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore landed the first major blow of the Festival.

Honeysuckle eased into a nice rhythm as the early pace setters set an expected strong gallop, with Goshen nearly veering off the course before the chancers reached the top of the hill.

watch: relive the action as honeysuckle lands a second Cheltenham Festival success by taking the champion hurdle [credit: racing tv]

Strong fancy Abacadbras fell early and defending champion Epatante was not too prominent, leaving the door open for the daughter of Sulamani to quicken clear up the hill and reward her loyal band of supporters.

She scooted up the hill on the old course for the second time in as many season’s and was simply too speedy a rival as the remainder of the field toiled in her wake.

Once again, Sharjah would pick up the silver medal and finish second.

So what next for this outstanding seven-year-old?

Handler de Bromhead confirmed that he was ‘leaning towards’ a trip to Punchestown – a track his stable-star has never run at to date.

“Honeysuckle certainly appears to be going from strength to strength and was brilliant in Cheltenham, so it would be great to be able to go to Punchestown for the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, all being well,” he told Sky Sports.

“She seems good, really well and we’re delighted with her. We’ll just let her settle back in and just start tipping away with her again.

“We’ll just have to see and get a feel for her over the coming weeks and she’ll tell us how she is.”

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