To the eye little changes from season to season at Widden, the team calmly go about their business of consistently producing outstanding horseflesh the way the Thompson family has for 151 years now
But with this Autumn comes an air of expectation born out of the performances of the Widden conceived, part-bred and part-owned filly Sunlight. And the excitement this bonny juvenile has generated can be palpably felt when dealing with all who call Widden home.
As we go to print Sunlight has the runs on the board and rightfully dominates Golden Slipper betting. Her win in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic was comprehensive before she backed that up with another impressive winning performance in the all-important Gr.2 Silver Slipper Stakes.
Sunlight is a first crop daughter of Zoustar who stands at Widden in a shared arrangement with Victoria’s Woodside Park Stud, and those that deal with the broodmares get a daily reminder of her as they also care for her dam Solar Charged, Charge Forward’s daughter who is Widden owned in conjunction with the al Thani family’s Qatar Bloodstock and Mr Dan Fletcher.
Widden Principal Antony Thompson is understandably excited about what the next 6 weeks has in store for the historic stud.
“Easter is a culmination of not only months of work but in fact years. From mating the mares correctly and carefully managing these young horses for a racing career is something we regard as incredibly important. Our draft this year has so much depth and quality to it that it’s hard not to feel a little excited about each horse’s prospects at sale and on the track.
Seeing young horses like Dissident, Star Turn, Stratum Star go on to racetrack success is one thing we pride ourselves on and to have the Golden Slipper favourite in Sunlight further highlights our practices we put in place. It’s what we’re in the business for.”
Should Sunlight rule on March 24th then she will add another chapter to Widden’s extensive Golden Slipper story. Since its inception in 1957 some of the most enduring names on the Slipper honour role have had a strong connection with Widden. The inaugural winner Todman would stand his later years at the stud and a generation later Marscay, a brilliant winner in 1982, would stand at the historic property. Marscay shared the serving barn with the reigning Champion stallion of the time in Bletchingly and between them the pair sired the Slipper winners Star Watch, Canny Lad and Bint Marscay over a period of just six years.
This century Widden has stood the 2005 winner Stratum, himself the sire of a Slipper winner in Crystal Lily, and the 2008 winner Sebring who currently heads the farm roster. And just last Spring Widden welcomed the first crop of Outreach, a once-raced brother to the 2014 Slipper winning filly Overreach.
The long-held Thompson family ethos of only standing the fastest horses has underpinned the stud’s historic success, while Sunlight is a shining example of the policy’s relevance today.
“It’s been a fundamental policy of ours for as long as I can remember. Stand the best by the best. Widden’s record at identifying young talent & establishing them into successful stallions is second to none”. Says Thompson.
The next Widden generation, comprising 30 high quality yearlings, will be on show at barns J and K at Inglis’ Riverside stables this Easter.
As could be expected from a young sire that has had the likes of the Widden born, raised & sold, Horse of the Year Dissident and $7m earner Criterion, Sebring leads the draft with nine lots and something to suit all tastes. His opening offering is the colt first foal of the Gr.2 McEwan Stakes winning sprinter in Angelic Light and he follows that up with another first foal, this one a colt out of the Gr.1 Myer Stakes winner Bonaria from the family of Merchant Navy. In quick succession will follow a full brother to Gr.1 Caulfield Guineas runner up Lizard Island from the Choisir mare Bourgogne, a colt from the winning Redoute’s Choice mare Brand New Choice from the sire-making family of Snippets and Not A Single Doubt, and a final colt, this time from an unraced Fastnet Rock mare from the family of Redoute’s Choice.
Fate and the alphabetical cataloguing system have decreed that all five of his colts will sell on day one while his quartet of fillies are to be spread over sessions two and three. His first filly of the sale is a daughter of the Gr.3 winning Red Ransom mare Fuddle Dee Duddle, a half-sister to the Gr.2 winning sprinter Hallowell Belle. Next along is a half sister to the recent Gr.3 Carbine Club Stakes winner Levendi out of another Redoute’s Choice mare in Lipari. Then late on day two a granddaughter of the multiple Gr.2 winner in Australia and Hong Kong Derby winner Elegant Fashion will be offered while on the final morning a Sebring half to the South African Gr.2 winner Mella Maria out of the Gr.2 placed Sayahailmary goes under
But it’s not all about Sebring and there is a diverse range of horses in the Widden draft this year.
There would be few if any, faster stallions in Australian that have proven themselves able to get horses of the calibre of dual Gr.1 winner Global Glamour and the exciting speedster Star Turn, than Star Witness who has a pair of Widden conceived yearlings on offer. He will start with a colt out of Kiss The Sun, a half-sister to a pair of Stakes winning two-year-olds in the Gr.1 Blue Diamond winner Undoubtedly and the Gr.2 Reisling Stakes winner in Regal Kiss, and is the dam of the Gr.2 placed Kimberley Star. Star Witness’ remaining offering is a half-sister to the tough and dependable campaigner Destiny’s Kiss, a multiple Stakes winner of over one million dollars with wins from 1500 metres to two miles.
Widden will also offer a pair of Zoustar yearlings likely to be in high demand given the exploits of Sunlight and supported by the city winning colt Zousain. He will have a filly out of a winning Fastnet Rock mare in Locket, a granddaughter of the Grade 1 winning daughter of Shirley Heights in Infamy, and also a colt first foal out of Sebring’s Gr.3 placed daughter Patricia Dawn.
This Easter represents the last opportunity for buyers to select from a full crop of Stratum, sire of such quality gallopers as Streama, Stratum Star and Takedown, and Widden will present a pair of his yearlings for sale. His first is a filly out the Sebring mare Rainbow’s End, a half-sister to the South African Group 1 winner Le Drakkar while the other Stratum is a half-brother to the Gr.2 Phar Lap Stakes winner Hattori Hanzo and the Gr.3 winner Amorino from the family of the Oaks winners Danendri and Faint Perfume.
Potential buyers will no doubt notice the breadth of stallion lines Widden and their clients will have on offer encompassing both some of the elite stallions in Australia and those that look set to take that mantle in years to come.
They will offer a son of the reigning Champion Sire Snitzel out of the dam of the Gr.2 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes winner Running Tall and on behalf of Julia Ritchie’s Bangaloe Stud a three-quarter sister to the Gr.1 The Galaxy winner Sweet Idea and Gr.2 Bill Stutt Stakes winner Showtime. Buyers can also look at a son of the champion Fastnet Rock out of the Canadian Stakes winner Summer Girlfriend, dam of the previously mentioned Patricia Dawn. There is also a colt by Medaglia d’Oro, a grandson of the New Zealand mare Black Mamba who raced with distinction in North America winning at Grade 1 level and coming from the family of Gr.1 Australian Derby winner Roman Emperor. Then there is the first foal of the Gr.1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes winner Peggy Jean by the red-hot I Am Invincible.
Widden also have a filly by the VRC Oaks’ winner Pinot’s young sire Pierro and a colt by his great racetrack adversary All Too Hard. Rounding out the draft will be a Wandjina filly on behalf of Bangaloe from the family of Fastnet Rock and a son of the popular first season sire Brazen Beau.