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Honeysuckle stars for Blackmore to leave De Bromhead with Champion conundrum

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Rachael Blackmore after winning the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Rachael Blackmore after winning the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Rachael Blackmore after winning the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Saturday turned into the Henry de Bromhead-Rachael Blackmore show, but we still don't know if their classy mare Honeysuckle is bound for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Honeysuckle took her unbeaten record under rules to seven in the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle after the odds-on favourite was made to work hard to see off 20/1 outsider Darver Star and her stablemate Petit Mouchoir in the hands of Blackmore.

"She just looked like she got a bit lonely going to the last. She's so tough and the lady on top of her is so tough," said De Bromhead. "We'll enjoy today. We've won the Irish Champion Hurdle and we can discuss all that in time. I'm delighted to get today behind us."

Blackmore and De Bromhead enjoyed a second Grade One win on the card with Notebook, which maintained his perfect record over fences with a gutsy display to see off the Willie Mullins-trained Cash Back in the Arkle Novice Chase.

Mullins is definitely sending Sharjah to the Champion Hurdle next month despite his charge finishing sixth behind Honeysuckle, with the trainer feeling two bad mistakes in succession put paid to his horse's chances.

"At the first hurdle down the back he stood way back at it and then he missed the next and did the same thing at the one after that," said the Closutton handler.

"I thought those two jumps just took whatever chance he had. He put too much effort into jumping those hurdles, normally he doesn't do that and it's out of character.

"It wouldn't look like his run on the form of the race. We'll go home and see, it's back to the drawing board with him.

"I'd imagine we'll probably prepare him now for the Champion Hurdle and take our chance."

In the other Grade Ones on Saturday, Chacun Pour Soi beat Min for a Mullins one-two in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, while Latest Exhibition gave Paul Nolan a first triumph at the top level since December 2013 in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors '50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff' Novice Hurdle.

Mullins reported all his runners from day one to be none the worse for their exertions, and signalled out Chacun Pour Soi and bumper winner Appreciate It for special praise.

"They are all good and I don't have any bad stories this morning. Hopefully it will be the same tomorrow," he said yesterday. "There are a couple nicks and cuts, but that's normal in racing.

"I thought, apart from the disappointments, Chacun Pour Soi is a star and we may have found another one in Appreciate It in the bumper, because I think that was a huge field of horses yesterday. He must be a really good horse."

Irish Independent