March 2023


HONEYSUCKLE (GB), who has been a flag-bearer for British National Hunt breeding since she burst onto the Grade 1 scene in early 2019, has run her last race, having been retired after winning the Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday afternoon.

The news, confirmed by owner Kenny Alexander after the race, brings the curtain down on a magnificent career that saw the star mare win 17 races under rules, 13 of them at Grade 1 level, and £1,431,910 in prize money for connections.

Honeysuckle’s fourth consecutive win at the Cheltenham Festival ensured a rapturous reception as she returned to the winner’s enclosure one final time. Watch the race here.

In celebration of Honeysuckle’s career, Great British Racing International have compiled a video (find at the bottom of this story) of recognised faces from across the racing industry, including several close to the mare on this side of the Irish Sea, reflecting before and after Tuesday’s race on what she has achieved, particularly in the context of National Hunt breeding in Britain.

Among those featured are Doug and Lucy Procter, who, along with named breeder and stud co-owner Dr Geoffrey Guy, bred Honeysuckle out of the late LANDO mare FIRST ROYAL at The Glanvilles Stud in Dorset.

Doug, reflecting on the journey the team at The Glanvilles Stud have been on with Honeysuckle while stood next to the mare’s half-sister ROC ROYAL (GB), says:

“I’m not sure I ever dreamed we’d be able to breed a horse that has done what Honeysuckle has done. I was happy when she won her first Hatton’s Grace, which I can, to this day, remember watching on a mobile phone in the box park at the Larkhill Point-To-Point.”

Lucy adds:

“We always say there are so many potential hurdles from foaling to first run, that just getting a horse on a racecourse is a win in itself, so actually winning a race, in whoever’s colours, is the icing on the breeders cake.”

“And what Honeysuckle’s done?” continues Doug, “well that’s a whole other cake on top of the cake!”

Emma Berry, editor of the Thoroughbred Daily News, says: “I think we’ve all just seen here at Cheltenham what Honeysuckle means to racing. I don’t think we’ll have a bigger reception for a horse all week than that. Everyone knew this was her swansong and she’s gone out the complete and utter champion that she was.

“She’s been a huge success for British National Hunt breeding, for Henry de Bromhead’s team, for Rachael Blackmore and the whole thing amounts to a wonderful story.”

As in 2022, the opening day of The Festival in 2023 was a landmark occasion for British National Hunt breeding, with CONSTITUTION HILL (GB) winning the feature race, Grade 1 Champion Hurdle, which Honeysuckle won last year.

Click on the image below to watch the Honeysuckle tribute video.

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