Honeysuckle destroyed a high-class field in the Baroneracing.com Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse to remain unbeaten in the process.
Despite the ratings suggesting she had a mountain to climb against the likes of Apple’s Jade, Bacardys and Penhill, she was still sent off the 9-10 favourite.
When Apple’s Jade took up the running from Killultagh Vic before the third last, her supporters were dreaming of a fourth win in the race – but Jack Kennedy was soon sending out distress signals.
Plenty could be gauged from Rachael Blackmore’s body language on Honeysuckle, because she was happy to take up the running while still on the bridle.
As Apple’s Jade dropped away, Bacardys was the only serious rival – but when Blackmore pressed the button, Henry de Bromhead’s five-year-old put the race to bed.
The winner of her only point-to-point, she is now six out of six over timber, and the world looks her oyster.
Honeysuckle is now 6-4 favourite for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham – and is 8s from 33s for the Champion Hurdle.
“She was brilliant, and even I could enjoy it a bit,” said De Bromhead.
“I couldn’t believe it when Rachael took a pull on her turning in, considering the calibre of race she was in.
“She pinged the second last – and as Rachael said, they always seem to get the last wrong, but she got out over it and really powered to the line.
“She’s a very professional mare, and Rachael gets on really well with her. This is why we are all in it, for a special mare like her.
“She loves it here at Fairyhouse, and we better go and find out now if she can go left-handed.”
Future big-race targets will depend on that being the case, of course.
De Bromhead added: “She’s entered over two and three miles at Leopardstown, but I’m not sure if she will go there.
“The Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham will obviously be very high on her agenda, and we might wait and give her a prep run before that.
“She’s grown and developed over the summer and is still only five. She jumps a fence lovely in loose schooling, but at the moment we are just taking one race at a time.”