Rachael Blackmore rides A Toi Phil in Monday’s Boyelsports Irish Grand National but even a win in Fairyhouse’s €500,000 feature might struggle to compete in incident terms with the rider’s Easter Sunday.
The ground-breaking jockey enjoyed a first domestic Grade One victory when the 6-4 favourite Honeysuckle lived up to her huge reputation in the Irish Stallion Farms Mares Novice Hurdle.
Last month at Cheltenham Blackmore secured a first top-flight career success aboard another Henry De Bromhead star, Minella Indo, in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle.
However it was another of De Bromhead’s powerful string that just an hour after Honeysuckle supplied graphic evidence of racing’s capacity for fluctuating fortunes. Mind’s Eye and Blackmore led the novice handicap chase on the run to the second last fence when the rider delivered a strike of the whip with her left hand. The Michael O’Leary-owned runner reacted by darting dramatically to his right, badly hampering his rival Snugsborough Hall in the process.
Blackmore tried desperately to straighten up her wayward mount but Mind's Eye was having none of it. He kept going right past the wing of the fence carrying the unfortunate Snugsborough Hall with him.That horse wound up jumping the part of the fence on the wrong side of the wing. Blackmore was unceremoniously dumped to the ground and ultimately it was Impact Factor who went on to win under Robbie Power.
Blackmore was unscathed and afterwards explained: “He just cocked his jaw when I got my stick into my left hand.”
It was an unceremonious comedown from her earlier high on Honeysuckle who looks to have the racing world at her feet after maintaining an unbeaten record.
Forced to miss Cheltenham after a setback, the five-year-old bounced back with a smooth defeat of Elfile with last month’s festival winner Eglantine Du Seuil only third. It was a third Fairyhouse win for Honeysuckle in all.
“She was incredible. She had to live up to it today so I’m relieved and delighted. It was very disappointing she missed Cheltenham. But she was professional and got the job done today,” Blackmore said.
It was an 87th winner of a momentous season that sees only Paul Townend in front of Blackmore in the jockeys table with less than two weeks to go.
“Rachael said she wanted to keep it simple. She got a lovely position and had her jumping great,” De Bromhead said. “It’s been a phenomenal year for both of us. She’s a huge part of our operation and I’m delighted she’s got her Grade One for us.”
A Grade One option against geldings on Day Four of Punchestown next week could be an option for Honeysuckle.
The sole cross-channel entry on Sunday's card, Jonjo O'Neill's Annie Mac, was a non-runner after the stewards decided there was a vaccination error in her paperwork. "The vaccine required was not recorded in the passport," said the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board's chief veterinary officer, Dr Lynn Hillyer, after a decision that a spokesman for the owners described as "incredibly frustrating."
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh got the perfect Grade One boost ahead of the Irish National when Voix Du Reve beat his stable companion Real Steel in the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase.
The 9-4 winner provided a welcome change of luck for owner Graham Wylie. His Up For Review was fatally injured in the Aintree National, shortly after two other horses of his, Invitation Only and Ballyward, lost their lives at the Cheltenham festival.
“He’s a very keen horse who’s bred to get a bit further. Now he’s relaxing a bit more he’s getting a bit further,” said Mullins who runs seven horses in his pursuit of a first win in Monday’s big race.
Both Voix Du Reve and Real Steel are likely to be part of the champion trainer’s traditional huge team at Punchestown next week. Gordon Elliott’s Cubomania sustained fatal injuries in a fall at the fourth last in this race.
Joseph O’Brien saddled a first and last race double with Uhtred particularly impressive on his debut in the €100,000 Tattersalls Sales Bumper. Uhtred appeared on the card as running for O’Brien’s mother Annemarie. However jockey Tom Hamilton wore the Gigginstown Stud colours in the race.
O’Brien said the sale took place in “last few days” while Gigginstown’s Eddie O’Leary added: “He was bought on Joesph’s recommendation so fair dues to him!”
Four horses ended up on the ground in this race. Soldat De Voyage sustained fatal injuries in a fall and three others were brought down as a result. Lovely Moon’s rider Aine O’Connor was taken to Blanchardstown Hospital afterwards for precautionary X-rays.
An Easter Sunday attendance of 6,100 saw JP McManus’s colours to victory in the first two races. Galilean upset the odds-on Mr Everest in the opening maiden and the 6-1 co-favourite Roxboro Road ran out a two length winner of the following handicap hurdle.