THE Honey Monster was back with a bang at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
Now a perfect 13 from 13 – reigning champion hurdler Honeysuckle returned in breathtaking form as she won back-to-back Hatton's Grace Hurdles under Rachael Blackmore.
The seven-year-old mare ran a high-class field into the ground and was able to coast home after the last to win emphatically by eight lengths.
But the race was marred by the loss of Paul Nolan's Grade 1-winning stable star Latest Exhibition, who was pulled up with a serious injury just after the third last by jockey Bryan Cooper.
The race went as smoothly as Blackmore and trainer Henry De Bromhead could have dreamt, considering it was Honeysuckle's first outing in 212 days.
She bowled along powerfully in behind the leaders and breezed into the lead on the home turn.
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Once Blackmore asked her to go through the gears, she did so with ease and kicked clear in the straight to preserve her unbeaten record.
Ronald Pump (22-1) was a distant second ahead of Abacadabras (11-2) in third.
Paddy Power slashed her odds for the Champion Hurdle, and she is now odds-on at 4-5 (from 6-4) to defend her crown in March.
De Bromhead said: "I'm delighted with that, Rachael was brilliant on her and together they're a lethal combination.
"She was really psyched before the race when we were trying to saddle her.
"We might have done a little bit more this year to get her ready for this race – I like to usually let mine progress but we had her pretty straight.
"She is an incredible mare and to be associated with her amazing – she got an unbelievable reception coming back in.
"I had myself convinced all week that she would get beat today. But I have to remind myself how brilliant Rachael is and not worry too much.
"We will back off her now for a few weeks and prep her for the Irish Champion Hurdle – she's amazing."
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