CHELTENHAM, England (Reuters) – Rachael Blackmore became the first woman jockey to win the Champion Hurdle when she guided Honeysuckle to victory in the opening feature race of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Irish rider was untroubled as the 11-10 favourite streaked clear to win by six lengths. It was unbeaten Honeysuckle’s 11th successive victory.
“Absolutely incredible,” Blackmore said. “I’m speechless to be honest. I can’t believe we just won the Champion Hurdle.
“It’s unbelievable for everyone in the yard. She’s so straightforward to ride. It’s very easy to do things when you know you’ve a big engine underneath you.”
The usual Cheltenham roar from the grandstands was missing as Blackmore crossed the line, however, as this year’s four-day jump racing festival is taking place behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)