THE curtain fell on the racing career of Honeysuckle at Cheltenham on Tuesday, amid scenes we are unlikely to experience again for a long time.
Bred in Britain, and on a memorable day for English-based breeders, Honeysuckle burst onto the Grade 1 scene in early 2019, and she was officially retired after recording her fourth consecutive win at the Cheltenham Festival. This brings to an end a racing career that saw the brilliant mare win 17 of her 19 races under rules, 13 of them at Grade 1 level, and earn £1,431,907 in prize money for connections. Oh, and don’t forget that she won her only point-to-point.
Victory for the daughter of Sulamani (Hernando) delighted Doug and Lucy Procter, who, along with named breeder and stud co-owner Dr Geoffrey Guy, bred Honeysuckle out of the late Lando (Acatenango) mare First Royal at The Glanvilles Stud in Dorset. Doug said on Tuesday: “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 added: “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 breeder’s cake.”
“And what Honeysuckle’s done,” continues Doug, “well that’s a whole other cake on top of the cake!”
Honeysuckle’s pedigree has been reviewed many times, so let’s just summarise her race record one last time.
The Tattersalls Ireland (€9,500 to Mark O’Hare) and Goffs (€110,000 to Rathmore Stud) graduate won the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle, Cheltenham (twice), the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle, Leopardstown (3 times), the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, Fairyhouse (3 times), the Grade 1 Mares’ Novice Hurdle, Fairyhouse, the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle, Punchestown (twice), the Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle, Cheltenham (twice), the Grade 3 Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle, Fairyhouse, and the Listed Boreen Belle Mares Novice Hurdle, Thurles. She placed second in the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle, Leopardstown, and third in the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, Fairyhouse, and also won a point-to-point from 20 starts.