Excitement is building ahead of the arrival of Honeysuckle’s eagerly-awaited first foal.

Owned by Kenny Alexander and trained by Henry de Bromhead, she was one of the most popular and successful National Hunt mares of any era, winning four times at the Cheltenham Festival, including twice storming up the famous hill for Champion Hurdle glory.

She bowed out when landing a second Grade One Mares’ Hurdle at the showpiece meeting in 2023, lifting the roof off the Cheltenham grandstands as she outbattled Love Envoi for an emotional farewell in the Cotswolds.

Attention soon switched to her broodmare career and after coming in foal to Walk In The Park, Honeysuckle is nearing her April due date, bringing both excitement and nerves to all associated with her.

Very exciting

“She’s about three weeks off and I’ve been told she is beginning to make a bit of a bag – it’s very exciting and there’s going to start being a few sleepless nights,” said Peter Molony, racing manager to owner Kenny Alexander.

Honeysuckle initially spent time at Molony’s Rathmore Stud in County Limerick before switching to Alexander’s New Hall Stud in Ayrshire.

He added: “It’s both a nervous time and exciting, but we’ve been in this game long enough and please God she will foal safely.

“I’ll definitely be on the first plane over to see what she has produced anyway.”

Future star

Honeysuckle’s on-track career may be over but Molony may have got his hands on a star of the future, having stretched to a sale-topping £410,000 for impressive point-to-point winner Echoing Silence at Cheltenham last Thursday.

Bravemansgame and Gerri Colombe are previous graduates of the sale held after racing on day three of the Festival, while the top two lots from the 2023 auction were Gordon Elliott’s Romeo Coolio and Jalon D’Oudairies, who finished second and third respectively in the Champion Bumper.

A four-length winner at Ballycahane, Echoing Silence will follow in Honeysuckle’s footsteps by joining County Waterford trainer Henry De Bromhead. However, Molony insists it was not him who gave the four-year-old ‘the next Honeysuckle’ moniker.

It wasn't me

“I saw that was the headline, but it certainly wasn’t me who said that,” Molony commented on the Honeysuckle comparison.

“It was a lot of money for her but she is the most beautiful-looking thing in the world and we actually sold her half-brother Deafening Silence, so I knew the family well.

“I saw her win her point and she was impressive, and I had been hearing about her beforehand. It’s always nice when you hear about them beforehand and they go on to deliver.

“We had to pull the choke out to get her but hopefully she will be lucky for us.”