Honeysuckle took her unbeaten record to 14 when winning the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle for a third time at Leopardstown on Sunday.
An admiring and appreciative Leopardstown public cheered Honeysuckle down to the start, and they roared in approval passing the stands first time around.
And as she galloped to a six-and-a-half-length victory, punters raised the roof of the grandstand.
Little wonder Rachael Blackmore admitted to having the chills and they could only have been multiplying as most of the 11,972 people in attendance (bringing the aggregate attendance for the weekend to 24,929) rushed to the parade ring, craning necks and standing on tables to get a view of the record-making mare, producing an ear-splitting ovation as the winning jockey brought her back to the winner’s enclosure.
Willie Mullins had to settle for third with Echoes In Rain, the extremely gritty Zanahiyr boxing on very well to be runner-up.
Heaven Help Us made sure the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle was a properly run race before giving away to the front two at the third last. Blackmore moved to the front turning in and quickly put the race to bed on the 1/5 favourite.
A good jump at the last set the seal on the verdict, making it three-in-a-row in the race and a record-breaking 14 consecutive triumphs under Rules from her successful debut, breaking the record Honeysuckle had shared with Bula.
“Ah man, it’s just unbelievable,” gushed a clearly moved Blackmore. “We’re so lucky to be involved in her. Me to be riding her, Henry (de Bromhead) training her, Kenny (Alexander) owning her. It’s unbelievable.
Rachael Blackmore soaks up another victory for Honeysuckle.— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) February 6, 2022
"We are all just so lucky. I've never had a reception like that cantering to the start of the race. I had chills."#rteracing pic.twitter.com/TW1VCVOlV3
“I’ve never got a reception like that cantering to the start. It’s incredible. I had chills through my veins cantering down to the start listening to everyone. It’s fantastic to be involved in it all. She’s an unbelievable mare.
“Kenny Alexander texted me last night and said, ‘She owes us nothing, just go out and enjoy it,’ and it’s lovely to be riding for those kind of people as well.
“The crowds are what make it. As I said, that cheer going down to the start. Where would you get it?”
Unsurprisingly, de Bromhead was beaming.
“She was really good,” declared the trainer. “She jumped great, travelled well and they just did their usual thing. It’s incredible, the stuff you dream of.
“Rachael kept it simple. (Honeysuckle) got in under one I think, she went a bit left at the third last but other than that she was brilliant.
“It’s just great having everyone back, such an atmosphere. Isn’t it great that she was able to do it on the day?”
It was a welcome relief too for the Knockeen conditioner, given that many of his charges have not been firing of late but after a doughty effort from Minella Indo yesterday and the champion performance from the champion hurdler, he is hopeful that they might be turning a corner.
“A lot of the horses have been struggling and I think it’s fair comment to say that. Some of the horses have had different individual reasons for why they haven’t been running well but it can get very frustrating when you get a run like this.
“Maybe I’m missing something. I wouldn’t like to sound I’m in denial. We test everything constantly. It feels like we’re gradually, very slowly turning the corner so fingers crossed we are.”