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HomeSportsCheltenham Festival: Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle seek Champion Hurdle win

Cheltenham Festival: Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle seek Champion Hurdle win

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Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle
Rachael Blackmore won the Irish Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle last month
Dates: 16-19 March Venue: Cheltenham Racecourse Races: 13:20-16:50 GMT Main race: 15:05
Coverage: Commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, feature races Radio 5 live. Racecards, live text, results & reports on the BBC Sport website and app.

Honeysuckle heads a field of 10 runners for the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday as jockey Rachael Blackmore eyes a historic Cheltenham Festival victory.

Rivals will include the 2020 winner Epatante and last year’s beaten Triumph Hurdle favourite Goshen.

Leader Goshen unseated jockey Jamie Moore at the final flight a year ago.

A woman has never ridden the winner of the Champion Hurdle or the Gold Cup, where Blackmore is on A Plus Tard and Bryony Frost rides Frodon on Friday.

Unbeaten mare Honeysuckle, winner of the Irish Champion Hurdle, is around 9-4 favourite for the big race on the meeting’s opening day.

Morgiana Hurdle winner Abacadabras will run for Denise ‘Sneezy’ Foster after she took over the reins from Gordon Elliott following his six-month suspension.

Honeysuckle’s trainer Henry de Bromhead also has Aspire Tower, Willie Mullins runs James Du Berlais, Saldier and Sharjah, with Not So Sleepy and Silver Streak completing the field.

The four-day meeting will take place without spectators and racehorse owners in attendance.

A landmark week at Cheltenham?

Blackmore has several leading rides at the meeting and is third favourite with bookmakers behind Paul Townend and Jack Kennedy to be the week’s top jockey.

She was second in the Irish riders’ championship last year to Townend and edged him out on Benie Des Dieux to win the Mares’ Hurdle with Honeysuckle at the 2020 Festival.

“Rachael gets on fabulously with the horse and is at the top of her profession,” Honeysuckle’s owner Kenny Alexander told Racing TV on Sunday.

“I don’t think people even mention that she’s a female jockey. She is without any doubt absolutely top class.

“She doesn’t come from a big racing background; she’s had to do it the hard way. She is a great example to anyone that if you have drive and guts, as well as ability, you can get to the top. She deserves all the success she is getting.”

Rides for women in the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup have been rare, and a woman has yet to finish in the first three, although opportunities overall are slowly increasing – with 34 rides at the 2020 meeting, compared with 23 four years earlier.

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