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Unibet Champion Hurdle
Cheltenham Free Bets
Grade 1, Cheltenham 15:30
£450,000 guaranteed,
4yo plus,
2m 87y, Class 1  
Tuesday 16th March 2022

1 Honeysuckle 8/11F
2 Epatante 16/1
3 Zanahiyr 28/1
10 ran Distances: 3½l, 1l, 2¾l
Time: 3m 50.13s (slow by 1.13s)

The Henry de Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle extended her unbeaten run to 15 as she saw off Epatante in the hands of Rachael Blackmore.

Successful behind closed doors 12 months ago, the mare gave the huge crowd plenty to cheer about as she powered up the hill to join the elite hand of dual winners.

Appreciate It, having his first race since winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on this day last year, made the running with Not So Sleepy for company until Honeysuckle made her move and jumped to the front at the second-last flight.

The 8-11 favourite set sail for home and though challenged by Nicky Henderson’s 2020 winner Epatante (16-1), she was too good and went on to score by three and a half lengths. Zanahiyr (28-1) was a length away in third place.

Honeysuckle received a rapturous reception following her victory, with De Bromhead delighted to see the public pay the mare her due respect.

He said: “It’s better than last year, obviously, with the crowd here, with Kenny (Alexander, owner) and (his wife) Caroline, with everybody. It’s amazing. It’s like a never-ending fairytale – just incredible.

“I just really hoped she could get that Cheltenham roar and it’s fantastic that she’s got it.

“She got it in the Mares’ (Hurdle in 2020), but for this as she missed out last year. It’s brilliant for everybody, our team, just everybody.

“Rachael was obviously sublime and I can’t believe it – as usual!

“She’s amazing and we’re so lucky to have her.”

De Bromhead admitted he had felt more pressure this year ahead of Honeysuckle’s title defence.

He added: “I did (feel the pressure a bit more), with the crowds and the build up, so it’s just amazing. The dream result was for her to win with the crowd here to cheer her and Rachael – it’s amazing and no more than they deserve.”

Blackmore – who made history last year when becoming the first woman to ride the winner of the Champion Hurdle – said: “It’s just incredible. Walking out there in front of the stand with all the people, it’s just such a special place.

“I’m so lucky to be riding winners here and on this mare. It’s class to have Kenny here as well, he missed it last year.

“She’s just incredible. She kind of decides in a race when she’s happy to go on, I haven’t stopped her from doing that yet.

“She’s just an incredible mare. The work that goes into her at home is unbelievable as well, Henry’s got a great team of staff and they deserve all the credit for this as well.”

Trainers Quotes

A proud Alexander said: “That was such an amazing thrill, but I’m glad it’s all over!

“But if you don’t get nervous on days like today, what’s the point? I always get nervous even if they’re at Tramore or Carlisle.

“It feels special this year with the crowd back, and my wife has come for the first time. She’s a dream horse.

“Having the crowd cheering for her is better than having them against you, I can tell you that. She’s had a great reception in Ireland and now she’s had one here.”

Henderson was delighted with the performance of Epatante, who improved on last year’s third.

He said: “I thought Epatante ran a fantastic race. I thought we had her back after she went on a bit of a walkabout last season.

“She was quick and sharp and made a race of it. She’s a very good mare, they are the two best and it must have been a while since mares filled the first two in the Champion Hurdle.

“It’s special when these mares are this good, it feels like a real moment and we couldn’t be prouder of Epatante.

“If she hadn’t stumbled after the last we’d clearly have won! No, listen, she might have been a length closer but she’s now been first, second and third in a Champion Hurdle which is some record.

“Now what do we do? I entered her in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, but after that her mark will go up again.”

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Unibet Champion Hurdle
£450,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus, 2m 87y, Class 1
10 ran
Going: Good to Soft

POS. DIST HORSE AGE WGT TRAINER JOCKEY SP
1     Honeysuckle 8 11-3 Henry De Bromhead Rachael Blackmore 8/11F
2
Epatante 8 11-3 Nicky Henderson Aidan Coleman 16/1
3
1 Zanahiyr 5 11-10 Gordon Elliott Jack Kennedy 28/1
4
Saint Roi 7 11-10 W P Mullins Mark Walsh 33/1
5
Glory And Fortune 7 11-10 Tom Lacey Stan Sheppard 150/1
6
nk Not So Sleepy 10 11-10 Hughie Morrison Jonathan Burke 125/1
7
nk Appreciate It 8 11-10 W P Mullins Paul Townend 100/30
8 Adagio 5 11-10 David Pipe Tom Scudamore 28/1
9
12 Tommy's Oscar 7 11-10 Ann Hamilton Danny McMenamin 25/1
10
6 Teahupoo 5 11-10 Gordon Elliott Robbie Power 9/1

Free Racing Tips

CHAMPION HURDLE PREVIOUS RESULTS

Year    Winner    Age/Wt     Jockey    Trainer     Owner    SP    Ran

2021 Honeysuckle 7 11-03 Henry De Bromhead Rachael Blackmore Kenneth Alexander 11/10F

2020 Epatante 6 11-03 Barry Geraghty Nicky Henderson J P McManus 2/1F 17

2019 Espoir D’Allen 5-11-10 Mark Walsh Gavin Cromwell IRE J P McManus 16/1 10

2018-WINNER- BUVEUR D’AIR 7-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-4/6 Fav
2ND-Melon 6-11-10 Owner-Mrs Joe Donnelly; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Paul Townend; SP-7/1
3RD-Mick Jazz 7-11-10 Owner-George Mahony; Trainer-Gordon Elliott IRE; Jockey-Davy Russell; SP-25/1
11 ran, Time-4m 5.00s; Dist-nk, 3

2017-WINNER-BUVEUR D’AIR 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-5/1 2ND-My Tent Or Yours 10-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Aidan Coleman; SP-16/1
3RD-Petit Mouchoir 6-11-10 Owner-Gigginstown House Stud; Trainer-Henry de Bromhead IRE; Jockey-Bryan Cooper; SP-6/1 11 ran, Time-3m 50.90s; Dist-41⁄2, 3 2/1 Fav Yanworth (Disqualified from 7th – banned substance in sample)

2016-WINNER-ANNIE POWER 8-11-03 Owner-Susannah Ricci; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-5/2 Fav
2ND-My Tent Or Yours 9-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-10/1
3RD-Nichols Canyon 6-11-10 Owner-Andrea & Graham Wylie; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Paul Townend; SP-15/2
12 ran, Time-3m 45.10s (new record); Dist-41⁄2, hd

2015-WINNER-FAUGHEEN 7-11-10 Owner-Susannah Ricci; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-4/5 Fav
2ND-Arctic Fire 6-11-10 Owner-Wicklow Bloodstock Limited; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Danny Mullins; SP-20/1
3RD-Hurricane Fly 11-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Paul Townend ; SP-8/1
8 ran, Time-3m 50.90s; Dist-11⁄2, 5

2014-WINNER-JEZKI 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-9/1
2ND-My Tent Or Yours 7-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-3/1
3RD-The New One 6-11-10 Owner-Sarah Such; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Sam Twiston-Davies; SP-10/3
9 ran, Time-3m 45.25s (new record); Dist-nk, 2½ 11/4 Fav Hurricane Fly (4th)

2013-WINNER- HURRICANE FLY 9-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-13/8 Fav
2ND-Rock On Ruby 8-11-10 Owner-The Festival Goers; Trainer-Harry Fry; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-11/2
3RD-Countrywide Flame 5-11-10 Owner-Estio Pinnacle Racing; Trainer-John Quinn; Jockey-Denis O’Regan; SP-16/1
9 ran, Time-3m 59.35s; Dist-2½, 1¾

2012-WINNER-ROCK ON RUBY 7-11-10 Owner-The Festival Goers; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-11/1
2ND-Overturn 8-11-10 Owner-Tim Leslie; Trainer-Donald McCain; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-20/1
3RD-Hurricane Fly 8-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-4/6 Fav
10 ran, Time-3m 50.10s; Dist 3¾, 1¾

2011-WINNER-HURRICANE FLY 7-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Mrs Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-11/4 Fav
2ND-Peddlers Cross 6-11-10 Owner-Tim Leslie; Trainer-Donald McCain; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-9/2
3RD-Oscar Whisky 6-11-10 Owner- Walters Plant Hire Ltd; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-7/1
11 ran, Time-3m 53.71s; Dist 11⁄4 , 5

2010-WINNER-BINOCULAR 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-9/1
2ND-Khyber Kim 8-11-10 Owner-Caroline Mould; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-7/1
3RD-Zaynar 5-11-10 Owner- Men In Our Position; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Andrew Tinkler; SP-15/2
12 ran, Time-3m 53.80s; Dist-3½, 6 11/4 Fav Go Native (10th)

2009-WINNER-PUNJABI 6-11-10 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-22/1
2ND-Celestial Halo 5-11-10 Owner-The Stewart Family; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-17/2
3RD-Binocular 5-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-6/4 Fav
23 ran, Time-4m 0.90s; Dist- nk, hd

2008-WINNER-KATCHIT 5-11-10 Owner-D S J P Syndicate; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-10/1
2ND-Osana 6-11-10 Owner-Thomas Barr; Trainer-David Pipe; Jockey-Tom Scudamore; SP-9/2
3RD-Punjabi 5-11-10 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-25/1
15 ran, Time-4m 8.10s; Dist-1, 5 2/1 Fav Sizing Europe (14th)

2007-WINNER-SUBLIMITY 7-11-10 Owner-Bill Hennessy; Trainer-John Carr IRE; Jockey-Philip Carberry; SP-16/1
2ND-Brave Inca 9-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-11/2
3RD-Afsoun 5-11-10 Owner-Trevor Hemmings; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-28/1
10 ran, Time-3m 55.70s; Dist-3, nk 6/4 Fav Detroit City (6th)

2006-WINNER-BRAVE INCA 8-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/4 Fav
2ND-Macs Joy 7-11-10 Owner-Mac’s J Racing Syndicate; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-13/2
3RD-Hardy Eustace 9-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-11/2
18 ran. Time-3m 50.00s; Dist-1, 3½

2005-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 8-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-
7/2 Jt Fav
2ND-Harchibald 6-11-10 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-7/1
3RD-Brave Inca 7-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Barry Cash; SP-10/1
14 ran, Time-3m 51.50s; Dist-nk, nk 7/2 Jt Fav Back In Front (9th)

2004-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 7-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-33/1
2ND-Rooster Booster 10-11-10 Owner-Terry Warner; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-11/8 Fav
3RD-Intersky Falcon 7-11-10 Owner-Interskyracing.com & Jacqui O’Neill; Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Liam Cooper; SP-8/1
14 ran, Time-3m 54.50s; Dist-5, 4

2003-WINNER-ROOSTER BOOSTER 9-12-00 Owner-Terry Warner; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-9/2
2ND-Westender 7-12-00 Owner-Matt Archer & Jean Broadhurst; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Rodi Greene; SP-33/1
3RD-Rhinestone Cowboy 7-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-5/2
Fav 17 ran, Time-3m 54.70s; Dist-11, 3

2002-WINNER-HORS LA LOI III 7-12-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-James Fanshawe; Jockey-Dean Gallagher; SP-10/1
2ND-Marble Arch 6-12-00 Owner-Martin Wilson, Rory Sweet and Mary Wilson; Trainer-Hughie Morrison; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-25/1
3RD-Bilboa 5-11-09 Owner-Jorg Vasicek; Trainer-Francois Doumen FR; Jockey-Thierry Doumen; SP-14/1
15 ran, Time-3m 53.80s; Dist- 3, ½ 2/1 Fav Istabraq (pu)

2001 Cancelled

2000-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 8-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-8/15 Fav
2ND-Hors La Loi III 5-12-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-Francois Doumen FR; Jockey-Dean Gallagher; SP-11/1
3RD-Blue Royal 5-12-00 Owner-Lynn Wilson; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-16/1
12 ran, Time-3m 48.10s; Dist-4, nk

1999-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 7-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-4/9 Fav
2ND-Theatreworld 7-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Tommy Treacy; SP-16/1 3RD-French Holly 8-12-00 Owner-Kieran Flood; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy; Jockey-Andrew Thornton; SP-11/2
14 ran, Time 3m 56.7s; Dist-3½, 2½

1998-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 6-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-3/1 Fav
2ND-Theatreworld 6-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Tommy Treacy; SP-20/1
3RD-I’m Supposin 6-12-00 Owner-Nicholas Cooper; Trainer-Richard Rowe; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-6/1
18 ran, Time 3m 49.1s; Dist-12, 1

1997-WINNER-MAKE A STAND 6-12-00 Owner-Peter Deal; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/1
2ND-Theatreworld 5-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-33/1
3RD-Space Trucker 6-12-00 Owner-Elaine Queally; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-John Shortt; SP-9/2
17 ran, Time-3m 48.4s, Dist-5, ¾ 7/2 Fav Large Action (pu)

1996-WINNER-COLLIER BAY 6-12-00 Owner-Wally Sturt; Trainer-Jim Old; Jockey-Graham Bradley; SP-9/1
2ND-Alderbrook 7-12-00 Owner-Ernie Pick; Trainer-Kim Bailey; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-10/11 Fav
3RD-Pridwell 6-12-00 Owner-Jones, Berstock and Fleet Partnership; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Chris Maude;
SP-33/1 16 ran, Time-3m 59.0s, Dist-2½, 6

1995-WINNER-ALDERBROOK 6-12-00 Owner-Ernie Pick; Trainer-Kim Bailey; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-11/2
2ND-Large Action 7-12-00 Owner-Brian Stewart-Brown; Trainer-Oliver Sherwood; Jockey-Jamie Osborne; SP-4/1 Jt Fav
3RD-Danoli 7-12-00 Owner-Dan O’Neill; Trainer-Tom Foley IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-4/1 Jt Fav
14 ran, Time-4m 03.1s, Dist-5, 2