Blackmore becomes first female jockey to win Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham

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Jockey Rachael Blackmore celebrates her victory on Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham
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Rachael Blackmore, riding Honeysuckle, became the first woman jockey to win the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old Irish rider guided the favourite into the lead turning for home and Honeysuckle was never in trouble, notching her 11th win in 11 races.

Blackmore raised her arm as she was saluted by those able to attend -- no spectators are allowed due to strict coronavirus protocols at the British racecourse.

"Absolutely incredible," she told ITV. "I am speechless to be honest, I really am. "I can't believe we just won the Champion Hurdle."

She made light of her history-making achievement.

"It doesn't matter what you are," she said. "We are jockeys. It is just a privilege to be here."

Trainer Henry de Bromhead said it was a joy to watch the winner in Blackmore's assured hands.

"It is amazing," he said. "You dream about it. Honeysuckle is amazing and what a partnership she has with Rachael, who was amazing. She was so cool throughout the race."

Sharjah finished second and last year's champion Epatante was third.

Honeysuckle's task had been made easier when the fancied Abacadabras fell early on and third-favourite Goshen lost his bearings completely.

His jockey, Jamie Moore, had hoped to make up for heartbreak last year when he came off Goshen at the last hurdle when clear in the Triumph Hurdle.

However, Goshen drifted wide of the field down the far side of the course and Moore had to battle to keep him in the race.

Former top Irish amateur jockey Katie Walsh said Blackmore's achievement was something special.

"Absolutely brilliant," she told the BBC. "I just think it is brilliant. She deserves this so much. She works hard and it is history.

"I am delighted for the person she is and she is a credit to the sport and a fantastic jockey.

"She has brought it to another level (female riding). It is great and so special to be watching on."