tears of joy | 

WATCH: Henry de Bromhead roars with joy as Honeysuckle wins at Cheltenham

Final win for Honeysuckle comes after tragic death of trainer’s young son Jack and it cost the bookies for a seven-figure sum.

Trainer Henry de Bromhead, his wife Heather, left, and winning jockey Rachael Blackmore after Honeysuckle won the Mares' Hurdle. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Sports deskSunday World

There were joyous scenes on day one of the Cheltenham Festival when Honeysuckle brought the curtain down on her phenomenal career with an emotional victory in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.

The sparkle of Henry de Bromhead’s superstar had seemingly been on the wane this term and the decision was made to return the dual Champion Hurdle heroine to the race she first announced herself in at the Festival for her swansong.

And the nine-year-old did not let her adoring public down by showing all the qualities that have made her one of the most loved and admired mares of the modern era.

Sent off the 9-4 joint-favourite, ever-loyal jockey Rachael Blackmore had Honeysuckle positioned in second throughout tracking the front-running Love Envoi and although the pack swarmed as the field made their way down the hill, the order remained the same until after the last.

With Love Envoi refusing to lie down, the brave mare Honeysuckle responded to every urging of her rider to gallop up the Cheltenham hill one more time, going to the bottom of the well and digging deep to edge her way to a titanic one-and-a-half-length triumph.

The victory gave her a fourth victory at the Festival and she signs off as one of the all-time greats having won 17 of her 19 career starts.

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The victory was even more poignant after De Bromhead’s 13-year-old son Jack tragically passed away last year this final win for Honeysuckle was dedicated to the youngster who passed away in September.

"It's the fairytale ending that doesn't normally happen. I am so happy for everyone. You dream of it but this is what she deserves. She is an unbelievable mare. She is so special,” he said.

"I think we have had a terrible year with Jack but the support everyone has given us we are really grateful for that."

Blackmore also paid tribute to a horse that has brought her so much success as she admitted young Jack was at the forefront of her thoughts.

"We all wish a very special kid was here but he'll be looking down on us,” she said.

On Honeysuckle's success, Blackmore added: "She's a phenomenal mare who has been amazing for my career. She's a credit to everyone."

A final win for one of racing's most popular horses was a massive blow to the bookies, with Paddy Power ‘delighted’ to report a huge financial hit.

Rachael Kane, spokesperson for Paddy Power said: "Honeysuckle has broken the bookies on day one of the Cheltenham festival, and frankly, we couldn't be happier!

"We stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the racing public in willing Rachael Blackmore across the line in the Mares Hurdle for trainer Henry De Bromhead and his family in what will forever be remembered as one of the most magical moments ever witnessed at the Cheltenham Festival.

“That result alone cost Paddy Power close to £1million on what was already a tough day at the office given the results of the previous four races, including Constitution Hill's heart-stopping leap at the last in the Champion Hurdle.

"But we're crying for all the right reasons tonight having witnessed the stuff of legends from the unstoppable feminine force that is Rachael and Honeysuckle, who went out in a blaze of glory.

“We head into day two with heavy hearts and lighter pockets having waved goodbye to a true legend."

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