Honeysuckle won the Baroneracing.com Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday for the second successive year – but she was clinging on in the final strides.
?? Honeysuckle justifies favouritism and remains unbeaten after winning the Grade 1 https://t.co/mNfzVJisTp Hatton's Grace Hurdle in thrilling style for @rachaelblackmor and @HenrydeBromhead ??@BarOneRacing pic.twitter.com/DzllmBOpbj— FairyhouseRacecourse (@Fairyhouse) November 29, 2020
Henry de Bromhead’s hugely talented mare was stretching her unbeaten record under Rules to nine -which includes five Grade 1s – yet she was made to pull out all the stops by Stayers’ Hurdle runner-up Ronald Pump.
Rachael Blackmore always had Honeysuckle in the perfect position, just behind the leader Cracking Smart.
The 4/11 favourite was in front early in the straight, with Noel Meade’s Beacon Edge looking her main challenger.
Honeysuckle got in a little close to the second last, allowing Beacon Edge to close, but the mare hit top gear and flew the last, seemingly putting the race to bed.
However, Ronald Pump, racing over a trip arguably short of his best, began to make ground rapidly under Keith Donoghue and was closing with every stride.
The line came just too soon for him, though, and Honeysuckle held on by half a length – with Beacon Edge back in third and Bacardys fourth.
Winning trainer Henry de Bromhead said: “It was a tougher race than the odds suggested but there is no easy Grade 1.
“Last year the Irish Champion Hurdle didn't do us any harm so we might look at that but we'll see how she is after today and makes plans.
“You'd always be tempted by races like the Champion Hurdle (in March) but we'll head for the Irish Champion Hurdle and then maybe we will firm up on plans.”
Blackmore added: "She was jumping her hurdles a bit better today and is maturing. She might have been just feeling it a bit on her first run after the last but she gets the job done every day. She’s very special and I’m lucky to be getting the leg up on her.”