January 3, 2022Andrew Reichard

As the 2022 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling sale draws near, heralding the start of an exciting new year, few farms commence the upcoming sales season on the back of as successful a 2021 as the Thompson family’s historic Widden Stud.

The addition of the Victorian branch to complement Widden’s long-established Hunter home farm in “the valley of champions” was a milestone in what has been a remarkable year, expanding their stallion roster to a 21 strong offering, providing breeders a wide range of commercial sires to suit any budget.

On the racetrack, Widden looked on with pride as Nature Strip, by the farm’s stalwart Nicconi, harnessed his extraordinary raw talent to become the nation’s top sprinter, his consistency and authoritative win in The Everest stamping the seal on his greatness. Widden’s flagship stallion Zoustar was a runaway winner of the Australian Champion 4th season sire title, and has distinguished himself as a leading commercial sire whose trajectory looks set for dual-hemisphere success.

The Victorian Spring carnival saw Widden-bred Magic Millions graduates Daisies, Biscayne Bay and Our Playboy excel in elite company. Daisies confirmed herself as one of the best of her generation, winning the G3 Ethereal S, followed by a second in the G2 Wakeful S to Willowy, and a close 5th to her in the G1 VRC Oaks. Biscayne Bay matched those achievements, following on her win in the G3 SAJC Sires as a 2YO with thirds in both the G3 Ethereal S and the G1 VRC Oaks.

Antony Thompson is optimistic about the upcoming year, “Just when we thought things couldn’t possibly get any better, Brereton (by Zoustar), who we sold for $1m at MM in 2021, came out with guns blazing, placing second in the Listed Debutant Stakes and winning the time-honoured Gr3 Maribyrnong Plate at his second start. He’s shown himself to be a serious stallion prospect for his Anthony Mithen led group of owners, and there are bound to be more colts with similar qualities going under the hammer on the Gold Coast in 2022.”

Turning to Widden’s draft of 42 yearlings for the Magic Millions January sale, it’s clear Antony is not exaggerating: there are several serious stallion prospects among them, as well as a number of beautifully bred fillies, with both racing and breeding potential. Before noting the individual highlights, an overview of the draft is most illuminating.

The 2022 renewal sees the long-awaited debuts
of yearlings by Widden’s young guns, the quadruple G1 winning Australian Champion 3YO Trapeze Artist and the Champion 2YO colt, Blue Diamond winner Written By. Not only were the pair great racehorses, but significantly they are both by Australian Champion sires, the former by four-time champion Snitzel, the latter by incumbent title holder, Written Tycoon. 

“We’re really excited to be consigning first crop yearlings by two such well-credentialled young sires, among the best in our long history. We have 10 in the catalogue by Trapeze Artist and 6 by Written By, from some great families, and we can’t wait to parade them for potential buyers.”

“We’ll also be offering 10 yearlings by Widden headliner Zoustar, who has attracted some of our clients’ best mares, as well as our own. With a 42 strong entry, we have no doubt that there’ll be something to suit all pockets. Last year, we sold 35 of the 36 yearlings we offered, with price tags ranging from $45k through to a sales-topping $1.9million. We set realistic reserves and are prepared to meet the market where possible.”

The strength of the Widden draft is such that even an edited highlight reel wouldn’t fit on these pages, though the abbreviated version should whet even the most discerning buyers’ appetites.

Among likely stallion prospects are two sons of Trapeze Artist and another by the sought after I Am Invincible.

Lot 514 – Trapeze Artist out of She’s Not by Falvelon. From the family of recent Victoria Derby winner Hitotsu and underrated sire Love Conquers All, a close relative to Lean Mean Machine, who is embarking on his own stud career.

Lot 853 – Trapeze Artist out of Cheeky Babe by Bel Esprit. From a real “stallion family” featuring All Too Hard, Magnus and young gun Ole Kirk. Worth noting is that this colt’s dam has strong pedigree similarities to 25 start unbeaten Champion Black Caviar. 

Lot 393 – I Am Invincible out of Prompt Response by Beneteau. A colt sure to be the cynosure of all eyes, a first foal from this Gr1 winner of over $1.6 million. 

If you are looking for a Classic filly and potential foundation mare, there are several candidates to be found in the Widden draft. 

Lot 406 – Zoustar out of Quayside by Street Cry. A notable female line, her first three dams are all Oaks performers

Lot 605 – Star Witness out of Taylor’s Command by Commands. A full sister to Group-winning Swift Witness.

Lot 61 – Trapeze Artist out of Fratianne by Lonhro. This impeccably bred filly is a half-sister to Group winners, Tenley and Biscayne Bay. This is the solid gold family of Skating, Juste Momente, Vancouver, Murtajill, Sunset Run and MM 2YO winner Bradbury’s Luck.

Lot 574 – Zoustar out of Summer Sham by Not A Single Doubt. This filly is the second foal of Summer Sham whose third dam Shantha’s Choice is responsible for a stellar lineup of Gr1 performers including Redoute’s Choice, Platinum Scissors, Manhattan Rain, Echoes Of Heaven and Shoals. Broodmare of the 20th century La Troienne continues to deliver the goods through her female line descendants, with the Best In Show branch arguably the “Best in Australia” via Shantha’s Choice, whose son Redoute’s Choice and grandson’s descendant Written Tycoon have both been champion Australian sires. There isn’t a finer family in any Stud Book, a blue hen in waiting if ever there was one.

The Magic Millions’ Raceday is a world-first concept that has established itself as an occasion of high stakes racing, fashion and glamour. The Widden team are no strangers to the excitement this prestigious event generates, boasting 13 wins by Widden graduates over the past decade. Antony and Katie Thompson have retained shares in a number of Magic Millions’ laureates, most notably triple G1 winner and all time auction record-breaker Sunlight, victrix of the 2018 renewal of the $2 million 2YO Classic and Madam Rouge who was first past the post in 2020’s $1 million MM Snippets, as well as Stratum Star, whose performance secured his place in the famed Widden Stud stallion barn.

“The crown jewel of Queensland’s Summer Racing carnival and proven source of champions, this uniquely lucrative race series provides graduates the opportunity to return annually as they progress through their racing careers, and we’re confident this year’s Widden draft will replicate the success the market has come to expect from what is undoubtedly Magic Millions’ showcase sale,” said Antony Thompson, who was happy to answer a few questions for Bluebloods: 

What are the best and worst purchases you have ever made?

A KTM 450 dirt bike qualifies for both categories.

What is the most important object you own?

My wedding ring. Objects aren’t as important as family and friendships, but having said that, if I lose my wedding ring, I’m in trouble!

What’s on your bucket list?

To walk the Kokoda track with my daughter Amy. We were booked in last year but due to COVID we were disappointed not to be able to tick off the experience.

Widden’s draft can be viewed at stable blocks D and E.

Andrew Reichard

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