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Rachael Blackmore steers Honeysuckle to Hatton’s Grace hat-trick

This was the reigning champion’s ninth Grade One verdict.

Rachael Blackmore celebrates with the trophy after riding Honeysuckle to victory this afternoon at Fairyhouse.
Rachael Blackmore celebrates with the trophy after riding Honeysuckle to victory this afternoon at Fairyhouse.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

HONEYSUCKLE MAINTAINED HER unbeaten record with an imperious display in winning a third Baroneracing.com Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The reigning champion hurdler has now had 13 races under Rules for Henry de Bromhead and this was her ninth Grade One verdict.

Connections had been weighing up whether to send her over fences this season but once the decision was taken to remain over hurdles, a third win in the Hatton’s Grace became her first objective.

De Bromhead felt he left her a little short heading into the race 12 months ago and while she was victorious, she only beat Ronald Pump by half a length.

It was Matthew Smith’s eight-year-old who proved her toughest opponent once again, but this time around he was eight lengths in arrears.

In truth, the result looked a formality from a long way out, when Rachael Blackmore moved Honeysuckle alongside the early leader Stormy Ireland with Ronald Pump going with her.

Approaching the second last though, Honeysuckle pulled clear and despite jinking slightly to her right at the last, she only had to be pushed out to win as the 2-5 favourite.

Statuaire caused a minor shock when getting up in the final strides to deny favourite My Mate Mozzie in the Baroneracing.com Royal Bond Novice Hurdle.

Willie Mullins saddled three runners in a race he had won eight times previously, but they were sent off as the three outsiders of the field.

However, the mare Statuaire (12-1) took a huge leap forward from winning her last two outings in the summer at Downpatrick and Wexford.

Dropped out in the rear by Danny Mullins, Statuaire seemed to want to go much quicker for most of the race and the pace was only steady, with the whole field covered by just three lengths until the third last.

The favourite My Mate Mozzie then took over, and he was sent off a 5-4 chance with the late absentee Three Stripe Life missing the race due to the quick ground.

Gavin Cromwell’s charge looked to have done enough running to the last but got in too tight, losing some momentum and Statuaire flew home to win by a short head.

Beacon Edge came from the clouds to claim an unlikely victory in the Baroneracing.com Drinmore Novice Chase.

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Noel Meade’s seven-year-old, a smart staying hurdler last season, was only fourth jumping the second-last and looked booked for a place at best. By then Gabynako had jumped for fun out in front for Darragh O’Keeffe and thinned the field out in the last half-mile.

Cape Gentleman fell at the fourth-last then at the next Midnight Run came down, badly hampering Grand Paradis who lost all chance and was pulled up not long after.

Gabynako was still going great guns in front, but he made an error at the second-last giving Fury Road a big opportunity.

Heading to the last Gabynako had just about got back on top but made another error, costing him plenty of momentum and leaving Fury Road in front.

By then Denis O’Regan had coaxed Beacon Edge to within a couple of lengths but on landing over the last, he was the one finishing with a flourish and while to Gabynako’s credit he battled back to head Fury Road, Beacon Edge (7-2) won by a length and a quarter.

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