Nicky Henderson’s 2020 heroine Epatante returned to defend her crown in 2021, but it was another mare making the trip over from Ireland who proved all the rage in the betting. Henry De Bromhead’s Honeysuckle had gone from strength to strength since landing a first Cheltenham Festival success in the 2020 Mares’ Hurdle and arrived looking to extend her perfect unbeaten record to 12.
The market suggested that Gary Moore’s Goshen may fare the best of the geldings on show, with the five-year-old having been so unlucky when unseating his rider at the final fence in the previous season’s Triumph Hurdle. Of the other Irish raiders, Sharjah had run a fine race to finish second to Epatante in 2020, the same year in which Abacadabras went down by just a head to Shiskin in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
- 1st – Honeysuckle 11/10F, Jockey: Rachael Blackmore, Trainer: Henry De Bromhead
- 2nd – Sharjah 11/1, Jockey: Paul Townend, Trainer: Willie Mullins
- 3rd – Epatante 4/1, Jockey: Aidan Coleman, Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Prize Money Breakdown
- 1st – £189,911.25
- 2nd – £71,550
- 3rd – £35,808.75
- 4th – £17,887.50
- 5th – £8,977.50
- 6th – £4,488.75
- 7th – £2,227.50
- 8th – £1,147.50
Tote and Forecast Payouts
- Tote Win – £1.80
- Tote Places – 1st – £1.10, 2nd – £2.70. 3rd – £1.60
- Exacta – £13.50
- Computer Straight Forecast (CSF) – £14.56
- Trifecta – £51.80
- Tricast – £38.67
Not too many of these seemed keen on making the running as the tapes went up, leaving outsiders Silver Streak and Not So Sleepy to take the field along. Having raced prominently to good effect in most of his previous wins, Goshen was soon pushed up into contention, helping to set the pace despite running incredibly wide. Abacadabras backers were the first to be disappointed, with the Gigginstown House Stud runner making it no further than the third.
Heading into the third last, Goshen’s inability to handle the left-handed turns had put paid to his chances. With Silver Streak beginning to wilt, Aspire Tower was the first to make a move, but he had barely hit the front before Honeysuckle swept by in silky smooth style rounding the final bend. By the time Sharjah and Epatante began to respond, Honeysuckle was away and gone, ultimately crossing the line six and a half lengths clear of the gallant Sharjah for a hugely impressive success.
A career-best effort from Honeysuckle, who joined Annie Power and Epatante as the only mares to win the race in the 21st century. A first Champion Hurdle success for Henry De Bromhead, but it was Rachael Blackmore who made most of the headlines. Becoming the first female jockey to claim this famous trophy, by the end of the meeting, Blackmore had also entered the record books as the first female winner of the Cheltenham Festival’s leading jockey title.
- 1. Abacadabras – SP: 10/1, Trainer: Mrs Denise Foster, Jockey: Jack Kennedy
- 2. Aspire Tower – SP: 33/1, Trainer: Henry De Bromhead, Jockey: Robbie Power
- 3. Goshen – SP: 11/2, Trainer: Gary Moore, Jockey: Jamie Moore
- 4. James Du Berlais – SP: 14/1, Trainer: Willie Mullins, Jockey: Daryl Jacob
- 5. Not So Sleepy – SP: 125/1, Trainer: Hughie Morrison, Jockey: Jonathan Burke
- 6. Saldier – SP: 80/1, Trainer: Willie Mullins, Jockey: Danny Mullins
- 7. Sharjah – SP: 11/1, Trainer: Willie Mullins, Jockey: Paul Townend
- 8. Silver Streak – SP: 22/1, Trainer: Evan Williams, Jockey: Tom O’Brien
- 9. Epatante – SP: 4/1, Trainer: Nicky Henderson, Jockey: Aidan Coleman
- 10. Honeysuckle – SP: 11/10F, Trainer: Henry De Bromhead, Jockey: Rachael Blackmore