Valley of Champions Strikes Again

 In 2015

Foaled, raised and sold by Widden Stud, exciting Encosta de Lago colt Vanbrugh became the latest Group I winner to emerge from the historic Thompson family owned stud when capturing the Group I ATC Spring Champion Stakes last Saturday.

Vanbrugh as a yearling

Vanbrugh as a yearling

A $100,000 Inglis Easter purchase for international bloodstock agent Mick Flanagan, Vanbrugh has been perfectly placed by champion trainer Chris Waller this spring graduating from a midweek victory to the Group III ATC Gloaming Stakes and from there to his first Group I success.

A warm favourite for the 2000 metre staying test, Vanbrugh powered clear to win by more than a length and has now won four of nine starts earning over $525,000 in prizemoney for his Northern Hemisphere based owners Merriebelle Stable.

American owners John Moores and Charles Noell race under the Merriebelle Stable banner and are keen to expand their involvement in Australian racing and breeding.

“The economics of Australian racing are so attractive that you can’t ignore them,” said their advisor and bloodstock agent Mick Flanagan.

“If you want to buy and race horses, this is a great place to do it.

“We will definitely be back to buy more yearlings next year, we have a commitment to Australian racing.”

Vanbrugh as a foal

Vanbrugh as a foal

Vanbrugh is the seventh individual Group I winner produced by Widden Stud in the past 12 months and was foaled and raised at Widden Stud for his breeder Mr Leung.

He is the third foal and second winner for Soho Secret, a metropolitan winning half-sister by Lucky Owners to Group winners Sportsman, Prisoner of Love, Hoystar and King of Prussia.

Soho Secret was also bred at Widden.

“We sourced Soho Secret’s dam Professionelle for Mr Leung when Lucky Owners retired to stud as he was seeking quality mares to go to his champion,” said Antony Thompson.

“Retained to race by Mr Leung, Soho Secret was the result of that first mating and she showed tremendous ability and was fourth to Samantha Miss in the Group III AJC Silver Shadow Stakes before breaking down.”

So You Think colt from Soho Secret

So You Think colt from Soho Secret

Soho Secret has a yearling filly by So You Think and has foaled again to the 10-time Group I winner this spring producing this lovely bay colt.

“She’s been covered by Sebring this season which should be a great mating for her given his success with Danehill line mares,” Thompson added.

Vanbrugh is the latest Group I winner of the new season to carry the famed Widden Stud brand joining Stratum Star and there could be another waiting in the wings with progressive Sebring colt Lizard Island going forward in leaps and bounds.

Bred by Robert and Deb Anderson and retained to race, the Widden Stud foaled and raised colt finished a good second to Press Statement in the Group I MRC Caulfield Guineas last Saturday and is pressing forward to the Victoria Derby.

Trained by Pat Hyland, Lizard Island is on the way up and his dam is a half-sister Group I VRC Oaks winner Bulla Borghese, so don’t be surprised if he’s front and centre on Derby Day at Flemington!