Honeysuckle delivers more sweet success for Dorset-based breeders

HONEYSUCKLE (GB) provided the British National Hunt breeding industry with another landmark success on Saturday when the classy mare showed admirable courage to claim the Grade 1 Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown Racecourse’s Dublin Festival under Rachael Blackmore.

The Henry de Bromhead-trained five-year-old daughter of SULAMANI, a six-time Group 1 winner on the Flat between 2002 and 2004 who stood at Yorton Farm in Shropshire until he died in 2017, is now unbeaten in seven starts over hurdles.

For the first time in her relatively short career, Honeysuckle was made to work hard for victory as dual Grade 1 winner PETIT MOUCHOIR and the fast-finishing DARVER STAR hassled her all the way to the line.

Owner Kenneth Alexander has breeder Dr Geoffrey Guy and Guy’s co-owners and managers of The Glanvilles Stud in Dorset, Doug and Lucy Procter, to thank for producing the mare. Honeysuckle is a fourth foal out of the late LANDO mare FIRST ROYAL.

Reflecting on the pairing of First Royal with Sulamani, Procter told GBRI:

“I was always a fan of Sulamani but he tended to get quite light-boned, narrow horses so I felt he needed a mare with a bit of substance. Honeysuckle’s dam was a great big lump of a Lando mare. She was a nice black-type hurdler and a winner on the flat in Germany, a very good-looking mare.

 “I was very pleased with Honeysuckle when she was born. As soon as I saw the foal I sent the mare back to Sulamani, so I have a year younger full brother. 

“We lost the mare, so the year younger brother was orphaned when he was about three months old.

“Honeysuckle only has one sister, a SHIROCCO filly called ROCK ROYAL (GB). We raced her in France and she placed three times for us. We sold her on, she went to Jersey, went wrong there, then after Honeysuckle won the first Grade 1 I bought her back from Jersey quite late last year and she was covered by MOTIVATOR.

“I’m having fun planning matings for her this year.” 

Noting how important this level of success is for the operation, Procter continued:

“It’s very important for profile. I do it for a living but in fact everyone does it for good horses like that.”