defeat regularly tells you extra in regards to the connections of racehorses than victory ever can and Kenny Alexander soaked up the blow of Honeysuckle’s first opposite in 17 begins with spectacular stoicism on Sunday. “It seemed to be business as usual, but they all got beat in the end, unfortunately,” Alexander mentioned. “It does not take the rest clear of what she has accomplished, and she or he has taken me to races and competing in races that I may just by no means have dreamed of doing. It’s disappointing, however it isn’t the top of the sector.”
There was, Alexander said, “a hush” over Fairyhouse after the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, a race that Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore were attempting to win for the fourth year running, as the crowd absorbed the fact that her winning streak had been snapped. Even as she briefly hit the front after the second-last, however, it was obvious that two of her opponents – Teahupoo and Klassical Dream – were going just as well, and probably better, in behind, and Honeysuckle offered no resistance as they took over at last.
Sunday’s race was over two-and-a-half miles, rather than the two miles over which Honeysuckle has won seven of her 12 Grade Ones to date, including two victories in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and three in the Irish equivalent at To install Leopardstown. Rain had also turned the ground to soft – from yielding-to-soft – by the time her race came around.
But there were still no excuses, from Alexander, Henry de Bromhead, her trainer, or Blackmore, and none were required, as Honeysuckle’s achievements over the last four years speak for themselves. There have been occasional complaints that she has been the best of a substandard bunch of two-mile hurdlers, or that a 7lb mares’ allowance exaggerated her ability, but the exceptional nature of Honeysuckle and her willingness to get home in front, time after time , is still remarkable.
Blackmore’s flawless performances on the eight-year-old over the years have also helped to avoid an unfortunate defeat along the way at any moment. Honeysuckle hasn’t, after all, been long-odds on or even the favorite for all of her starts, but has delivered for her backers every single time until Sunday’s unexpected defeat.
But it will, inevitably, get harder from here, assuming that Alexander and De Bromhead do not decide to retire her immediately in good time for the 2023 covering season.
No one could – or should – blame them if Sunday’s race does indeed turn out to be her last, and there is also the not-inconsiderable presence of Constitution Hill, the Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner, in her not-too-distant future too. Nicky Henderson’s gelding won last season’s Supreme Novice Hurdle without being asked a serious question, and still covered the trip five-and-a-half seconds faster than Honeysuckle did a couple of hours later.
Even before Sunday’s defeat, it looked likely that Constitution Hill would be an opponent too far for Honeysuckle if they ever went head-to-head on the track. At the same time, though, her undefeated record over two miles is still intact, and other rivals that might conceivably give Constitution Hill a race are few and far between.
Without Honeysuckle in the lineup at Cheltenham, the Champion Hurdle is likely to be a lap of honor for Constitution Hill, which does little or nothing to test the true depth of his ability.
The easy reality of it’s that Honeysuckle owes not anything to any person and has been an interesting and noteworthy presence on racing’s degree for the closing 4 years. If her first defeat additionally seems to be her ultimate get started, her standing as one of the crucial very best hurdlers of latest many years must be undiminished.