Honeysuckle Proved She Doesn’t Need 7lb To Beat The Boys

The Champion Hurdle winner was far too good for her male counterparts and would have won the blue-riband without the 7lb weight advantage she was in receipt of, writes Gavin Beech.

Honeysuckle Proved She Doesn’t Need 7lb To Beat The Boys

All hail the new Champion Hurdler Honeysuckle, an outstanding mare that is as effective at two miles as she is at two-and-a-half.

All true, of course. But there is an elephant in the room – the mares’ allowance.

Honeysuckle, like Epatante 12 months before her, was far too good for her male counterparts and would undoubtedly have won the blue-riband without the 7lb weight advantage she was in receipt of.

So, why not just let Honeysuckle go and prove the champion that we all know that she is. True champions don’t need an advantage and Honeysuckle showed on Tuesday that she doesn’t need 7lb to beat the boys.

The argument that this would discourage some owners to run in the top races suggest an incredible lack of ambition on owner’s behalf. I’m just not buying that owners of a top-class mare won’t try and win a Champion Hurdle just because they aren’t getting weight.

And then there is Rachael Blackmore, who proved once again that she doesn’t need any allowance in the saddle, indeed quite the opposite.

She kept things simple, never far off the pace but away from any possible interference around the inside, and the writing was on the wall for her rivals as she swept around the front-runners off the home turn. She was never going to be caught from that point.



That’s 13 Grade 1 wins for Blackmore, more than most of her male counterparts could only dream of. Of course, she has been incredibly fortunate to have had a horse like Honeysuckle in her career, but that in itself brings a pressure that she is seemingly able to handle as well as any jockey could.

Blackmore has done more than enough now to be considered one of the best big-race riders in the sport.

Earlier on the card, Shishkin did what most people expected him to do by making light work of his Arkle Chase rivals.

Those that dared take the long odds-on about last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner barely had a moment’s worry and it was plain sailing from the second last.

We would have learned more about Nicky Henderson’s star had Energumene been in the line-up but Shishkin is quite clearly an outstanding young chaser and Paddy Power’s 6/4 about him winning next year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase proved quite tempting for some of those that don’t mind waiting 12 months to be paid out.

That’s a long time and a certain Chacun Pour Soi might have a strong say in that particular outcome but it remains to be seen whether he will head into the 2021 contest as the reigning champion.

Oh, and don’t forget Energumene.