Honeysuckle claims third Hatton's Grace to extend perfect record

Honeysuckle etched her name further into the history of the Hatton's Grace Hurdle when running out a superb winner of the Grade 1 for a third time at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

The 2-5 favourite extended her unbeaten record under rules to a perfect 13 races under Rachael Blackmore, tracking the pacesetting Stormy Ireland in third for most of the 2m4f contest before being sent on turning for home.

She easily left Ronald Pump behind in second, with Abacadabras sticking on for a never threatening third.

Henry de Bromhead, who indicated Honeysuckle could take a similar route to last season, said: “We definitely made an effort to make her a bit fitter, to have a bit straighter than last year.

“She was brilliant. I thought her jumping could have been a little bit sharper but that would be being ultra-critical. The roar she got after was incredible. I feel very lucky to be involved.”

On whether there was a doubt about running her on the ground, De Bromhead added: “Yesterday afternoon there was, definitely. But once Rachael saw the ground she was happy it was safe. We had a look at it and everyone was happy to go.”

Bookmakers reacted to her comfortable eight-length win by cutting last season’s Champion Hurdle heroine for the same race at the Cheltenham Festival in March, with Paddy Power, the Betfair Sportsbook and Coral trimming her into 4-5 (from 6-4).

The seven-year-old has become the fourth horse to win three Hatton's Grace Hurdles, adding to her wins in 2019 and 2020 to match the achievement of Limestone Lad (1999, 2001 and 2002), Solerina (2003, 2004 and 2005) and Apple's Jade (2016, 2017 and 2018).

She was more dominant for her third win than her second Hatton's Grace, with Ronald Pump just half a length behind last year and Beacon Edge, winner of the Drinmore Novice Chase earlier on the card, a further head behind in third 12 months ago.