TV View: Honeysuckle the diva steals the show at Fairyhouse

With an attitude like that, if she had two legs she’d do a job in midfield for Man United

“You wouldn’t put a bottle of milk out in it,” said Shane McGrath of the Siberian-like conditions at Portlaoise’s O’Moore Park on Saturday evening for the Leinster hurling clash of Clough Ballacolla and Rapparees.

At least, though, he was in the relative comfort of the commentary box alongside Ger Canning, possibly with fan heaters blowing up their jaxies, unlike Derek McGrath who was punditing pitchside.

“You’d feel sorry for him below there,” said Shane, “no hat, no hair.”

While the bottles of milk stayed indoors, then, a considerable heap of hardy Irish folk ventured outdoors over the weekend to attend sundry sporting occasions, a record 37,126 turning up at Lansdowne for the FAI Cup final, and a pile more making their way to Fairyhouse to see Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore (amongst others).


Even before she directed Honeysuckle to her third successive Hatton’s Grace Hurdle triumph, Ruby Walsh was arguing that Blackmore should be a shoo-in for the sports personality of the year award.

There’s a strong argument, though, for Honeysuckle herself to get at least a slice of that gong, not least because she’s a sassy diva, this quality never more gloriously displayed than by her behaviour in the winner’s enclosure after the race when she refused to pose for photos and nearly kicked the living daylights out of anyone who came near her.

“What’s she like at home,” RTÉ’s Brian Gleeson asked trainer Henry de Bromhead’s son Jack after the race.

“She’s very angry,” he said.

“In what way?”

“If you go to rub her, she turns her bum to you.”

Kenny Alexander, her owner, confirmed that she does, indeed, have a bit of an attitude.

“She nearly killed me in there,” he said, pointing to the enclosure. “When she’s at home with us in the summer she’s a dote in the paddock, you could go in and she’d put her head in your lap,” said her racing manager, Peter Molony.


“But when she’s fit and ready to go, she’d eat you alive.”

If she had two legs instead of four, Roy Keane would make her Manchester United captain.

This all called to mind de Bromhead’s chat with Gleeson earlier in the year when he revealed that Honeysuckle is “a bit of a cow in her stable - as soon as you even look at her she starts trying to kick or bite you, she seems to really hate me”.

Unlike Blackmore, then, humility isn’t Honeysuckle’s thing, although if you had her pace and ability to gallop away from the field, much of which was made up of actual boys on Sunday, you’d probably have an attitude too.

Blackmore, though, deserves a special award for trying to find new words to describe how awesome Honeysuckle is, but Ruby, wearing a tea cosy-like hat that was the stuff of Derek McGrath’s dreams, reckoned there was a pair of them in it.

“Those pair of queens have delivered,” he purred, doffing his tea cosy to the two of them.

And Jane Mangan reminded us, lest we’d forgotten, what Blackmore had come through to even be on board the diva come Sunday. “This girl had a fall in July when she broke her hip and ankle - how many sports people would be back by September,” she asked.

The only one we can think of is Kellie Harrington, if such a misfortune had befallen her, you’d have a notion that if she had to enter that Tokyo ring on crutches she might well still have prevailed.

Her reward that August day was golden, of course, but come late November her reward for her excellence was even greater: she earned a ticket for the Late Late Toy Show.

“I apply every year, actually,” she told Ryan Tubridy, never once being pulled out of the hat.

Britain has its honours systems, by now it would have been Dame Kellie, but we do it our way. Arise Kellie Harrington, Late Late Toy Show guest.

And it doesn’t get any bigger than that.

Honeysuckle, though, will expect to be hosting it next year. Quite right, too.