Grange Farm Arabians -
winners of the 2008 Princess Muna Saddle of Honour
By Madeleine Sutherland
Thirty-seven years later Autumn Sunlight stepped into her Grand-dams shoes and repeated the success of winning the Princess Muna Saddle of Honour with her family group bred by Madeleine Sutherland and Fiona Leng of the New Painswick Stud.
Sunlight was bred by Mrs Murray of the Foxbury Stud and is of 75%+ Crabbet bloodlines, being by the beautiful dark liver chestnut stallion Bremervale Emperor and out of Autumn Gold. Mrs Murray had imported Bremervale Emperor from Australia where he had won many championships, with the specific aim of using him on her Gleaming Gold daughters and descendents. He is of all Old English lineage himself with additional Indian Gold blood through his great-grandfather, the Australian Crabbet, Sindh. Autumn Gold produced exceptionally well with him, the cross resulting in the extremely successful show filly Autumn Rose Gold (second at the Paris World Championships) as well as Autumn Sunlight, herself a championship winner at top level, being placed fifth at Ascot in her first year of showing and then going on to win her class and be awarded Reserve Best two-year-old at Kempton. The following year she went on to win her class at the British Nationals and also win Best three-year-old. When she was shown at Malvern in the mare and foal classes she was always in the top seven.
Sunlight was then purchased by Delyth Gamlin, and her first foal by Ibn Estopa, called Love Touch was the start of a long line of daughters for Sunlight. Delyth then leased Sunlight to the late Emma Bennett of Watering Farm Stud, and she had another filly called Silva Sunlight by Sun Crescent.
I purchased Autumn Sunlight from Delyth in 1993 after quite a few conversations about which direction I wanted to go with Arabians. Sunlight was sold to me in foal to Kerrilyn Ibn Amir and produced a fantastic chestnut filly for me who I named Golden Genusia; she was third in a huge foal class at Malvern. Delyth had purchased a new colt called Ffatal Attraction and after seeing him, the decision was made for him to be the father of Sunlight’s next foal. This mating proved to be a perfect nick, as Sunlight produced a stunning colt called Ffixation who was awarded Reserve British National Champion foal. Sadly Ffixation died so we decided to return Sunlight to Ffatal, and she produced two more stunning daughters. The first of these was Ffinesse, a beautiful bay mare who was retained at our farm as a future breeding mare. The second was Ffashion who, after coming second as a foal at Malvern, was sold to Mrs Pat Day of Templewood Arabians in Staffordshire, where I knew she would have a loving home for life.
Sunlight then had a few years off while I was concentrating on using some of my other mares for breeding. However it was when Mike Ashmore imported FS Bengali’s full brother Bay Dream (Kubinec x Om El Sanadiva) that I decided to put Sunlight in foal once again. Once again she again she did me proud and produced another fantastic filly called Sun Diva GFA; this very pretty mare is now owned by the Knight family in Northumberland and is having an active career in endurance. She has her mothers ‘quirky’ nature I believe but is very well loved.
During the next two years I was busy establishing my fledgling business, The Arabian Emporium, so breeding was set on the back burner for this period. However a fabulous gift from Delyth got me back on the road - a covering to the immortal Imad! Delyth had won this covering in a stallion raffle, and so Sunlight was back in foal, and you guessed it, another fabulous filly! She was pretty and feminine, everything I had expected and more. Sunlights Imadge has only been lightly shown and will hopefully be out again in 2009.
It was when I looked around my barn at these beautiful offspring that I realized just how blessed I had been with Sunlight, and looking at them every day was such a thrill for me. It was after I had placed a celebratory advert in the AHS News that I had a phone call from Fiona Leng, Mrs Murray’s daughter. Fiona was keen to use some of her mothers bloodlines however all the existing mares at Foxbury were too old, so she was on the look out for a new mare. She came to see my Imad daughter and also wondered if Sunlight was for sale. ‘Never say never’ is the saying, but I was not keen to part with her as she was 19 years old, and I was not sure how many more foals she would breed. I had returned her to Imad that year with a foal at foot, but it was not to be - that was her way of saying ‘one baby at a time thank-you’!
Fiona’s visit played on my mind over the winter months, and when spring came I made a phone call to Fiona offering her Sunlight. I had been a long-time admirer of the Foxbury breeding programme and what Mrs Murray had set out to achieve, and had kept in contact with her. Autumn Sunlight is the result of the final stage in the breeding plan of Caroline Murrray and her Foxbury Arabian Stud, and I realized that Sunlight was important to Fiona in so many ways. Sunlight had more than served her time with me, and had taught me so much in my formative years of breeding – she taught me all about foaling what to watch for, when to go in and help and when to let her get on with it. She was always the alpha mare at Grange Farm - she ruled everybody and could be very male in her personality, with a roar that could equal any stallions.
It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make to let her return back to her breeder Mrs Murray and her daughter Fiona Leng to continue her bloodlines back with her breeders. But I knew it was the right decision. She was returned to Imad and in true Sunlight fashion, produced another stunning foal – Autumn Dew, and no surprise, it was a filly!
Autumn Sunlight with the Princess Muna Saddle
Ffinesse by Ffatal Attraction
Sunlight with Golden Genusia by Kerrilyn Ibn Amir
Autumn Sunlight at the Northern Show
The winning group: from l to r: Ffinesse, Sunlights Imadge, Autumn Sunlight, Autumn Dew and Bay Ffantasy
Madeleine and Autumn Sunlight proudly accepting her prizes from judges Princess Alia Al Hussein and Peter Upton