Since bursting onto the scene in 2018, Honeysuckle has taken Irish National Hunt racing by storm and is now unbeaten in seven starts. For Doug Procter and The Glanvilles Stud in Dorset, her achievements embody why they have invested in breeding racehorses.
The Irish Champion Hurdle heroine, who was bred by Glanvilles’ business partner Dr Geoffrey Guy out of the Lando mare First Royal, will be seen racing in Britain for the first time next week when she takes on her own sex in the Grade 1 mares’ hurdle at Cheltenham.
Procter said of the daughter of Sulamani: “It’s the reason we all do it, for the good horses to come along whether you’re a trainer, jockey or whichever part of the industry that you’re involved in.
“The thing that actually keeps you going through the harder times is every time I look in the field of young horses, one of them could be another Honeysuckle.
“It’s good for the staff, particularly Vicky who looks after the young stock. She’s been doing it for years and she says getting up in the morning is so much easier knowing horses of that calibre are bred here.
“For the reputation of the stud and the commercial side of things, being known to breed good horses all helps.”
Having begun life as Wriggle Valley Thoroughbreds, it was following a chance meeting with Dr Guy in 2012 that The Glanvilles Stud came into existence and the operation has since gone from strength to strength.
Procter added: “People like Geoffrey enjoy success. He is a very, very successful businessman with plenty of resources who loves winning.
“He very rarely comes racing but equally, he’ll be in a meeting in America and I’ll tell him a horse is running and if he can, he’ll watch it on the internet. Otherwise he says he’ll be in a meeting and to text him the result.
“Apparently, when the text pings in, he will check how his horse has done.”
Glanvilles are no stranger to seeing their graduates compete at the highest level of National Hunt racing, as it was only last year that 2017 Long Walk Hurdle winner Sam Spinner returned to his very best to finish a gallant second to Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
“Last year we went to Cheltenham and it was disappointing that Honeysuckle didn’t make it and Sam Spinner had very much lost his way,” said Procter. “The run he produced in the Stayers’ was very, very satisfying.
“We were probably the only people who wished Paisley Park’s mistake had been a little bit more serious and he’d stumbled a little bit more to let us back into it. You’ve got to say if you can’t take being beaten by a better horse, don’t go racing.”
Another trip to Prestbury Park next week is firmly on the cards for Procter and he added: “You couldn’t not go. Whether I’ll be out the front cheering Honeysuckle on or have a touch of the Henrietta Knight’s by hiding in a corner listening, I don’t know.”