It is a year that will be remembered with sadness by the Cheveley Park Stud family as it’s one that began with the death of their visionary patriarch.
The 84-year-old David Thompson passed away on December 29 but has left an enduring legacy. Having driven the Phoenix-like renaissance of Newmarket’s oldest stud alongside his wife Patricia since the couple purchased the farm in 1975, it is a testament to their energy, nous and foresight that it operates to the forefront in most spheres of the thoroughbred and racing industry.
There must be significant succour from this and that is evidenced by Patricia’s continuing presence at the helm, with son Richard by her side.
If there was any doubt about the Thompsons’ continuing commitment, the purchase of the No Nay Never half-sister to Arizona for 825,000 guineas at Tattersalls’ October Sale last week seemed a signature statement. Meanwhile, on the track, Inspiral put an exclamation mark on a tremendous Flat season when maintaining her unbeaten status in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket. As a fourth-generation homebred filly, the daughter of Frankel is the prototype illustration of what has been built in the last 46 years.
A high-end dipping of toes in National Hunt has also proven staggeringly successful, Envoi Allen, A Plus Tard, Allaho, Sir Gerhard, Quilixios and Sunday’s Munster National winner Ontheropes all proving top class. Who would have imagined Cheveley Park Stud emerging from a Cheltenham Festival as leading owners, which was the case last March?
The stallion roster has performed too – and how.
“Tremendous,” agrees an understandably enthusiastic Matthew Sigsworth, who is Cheveley Park’s bloodstock manager and head of nominations. At the time of writing, a paltry £4,780 separated Mayson (on £1,043,534) from Dandy Man as the leading sire of sprinters by earnings thanks to the exploits of the likes of Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes victor Oxted; four-time winner (including the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes and €65,000 pot on offer in the Wokingham Stakes) Rohaan and Laugh A Minute, who secured Listed honours in the Sean Barrett Bloodstock Stakes.
Mayson’s son, Oxted, wins his second Group 1 sprint, the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“He’s a real stalwart for that level. Barely a day goes by without him having a winner. Obviously, the highlight this year was Oxted –who won the July Cup win last season – winning the King’s Stand. He also found Rohaan, who progressed beyond all recognition from running on the all-weather through the winter to winning a Sandy Lane Stakes. He’s about second favourite for the [Group 1] Champion Sprint as well on Saturday. “For a three-year-old to win the Wokingham, certainly under such a huge weight, is unheard of. It’s typical of Mayson’s stock, which is so tough and durable. The trainers love them... good-minded horses who want to do it, want to run, want to please you.”
Twilight Son currently sits second by number of races won in the second-crop standings with 76 victories. He’s also third-best by number of individual winners and has balanced quantity with quality by producing pacy and tough Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes winner Twilight Jet, who has also been placed twice at Group 2 level and was a close-up fifth in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes. The Listed winner Twilight Spinner has also been Group placed, as have the two year olds Khunan and Baghed.
“Twilight Son really started the year well with his three-year-olds. They really progressed and hit the ground running. He’s already had 47 individual winners this year, and decent ones too.
“Twilight Spinner was a nice filly who won a Listed race at Haydock in May. She was then sold and transferred to Joseph O’Brien and she had her first run there the other week for him, finishing second in a Group 3. She’s about 12 or 14/1 for the Champion Sprint on Saturday. She’s a lightly-raced, progressive filly.
“Twilight Jet was the top lot at the Doncaster Breeze-Ups. He won the Cornwallis in typical Twilight style. That was his tenth run of the year, which is amazing for a two-year-old but typical of Twilight Son’s stock; they continue to improve. He finished third in the Gimcrack and the Champagne Stakes as well and looks like taking his chance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint [Group 1]. Michael [O’Callaghan] thinks he could be a proper Group 1 sprinter next season all being well and is looking at races like the Commonwealth Cup.”
Twilight Jet enjoyed a comfortable success in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes and his trainer Michael O’Callaghan believes he’ll make up into a Group 1 sprinter next season.
Twilight Son’s grandsire is Pivotal whose own son Siyouni is making a big splash as a stallion himself. Glen Shiel and Addeybb are two of Pivotal’s most recent offspring to prevail at Group 1 level, but it is as a perennial Champion Sire of broodmares that assures the now retired 28-year-old former Champion Sprinter’s influence on the breed in perpetuity.
“He’s a phenomenon, a horse of a lifetime. We bred him ourselves and he raced in our colours, came back, and stood at £6,000 for his first season. He just went from strength to strength, upgrading his mares all the time. He’s also one of the top stallions in Europe through his daughters as a broodmare sire. His genes will continue to pass on for generations to come and he will hopefully have a long and healthy retirement here with us.”
Ulysses got off to a slow start to his second career, something that wasn’t entirely unexpected at Cheveley Park, given that he was a dual Group 1 winner over ten furlongs and thus a departure from the norm for the stud to stand.
Piz Badile, who got his sire off the mark in Killarney in July, Aeonian, New Dimension and Mighty Ulysses are four triumphant debutants that could have very bright futures given their sire’s improvement with age, suggesting that the introduction of something different could pay off in style.
Piz Badile (far side, by Ulysses) won with a bit in hand on his debut, and the third horse, who was beaten four and a half lengths, franked the form by finishing just one and a half lengths behind Atomic Jones in the Group 2 Champions Juvenile Stakes.
“We always knew and expected them to really get going towards the second half of the season. Don’t get me wrong: in August we were beginning to wonder! But I think in September he had seven individual winners and he’s already had a couple of more this month as well. Overall he’s had 12 individual first-crop winners.
“The most exciting thing about them is that, when you see them run, win or not, you can see there’s a real determination there. They put their heads down and want to win. They are really finishing their races well. It bodes well for the future in terms of them progressing from two to three.
“I think you can count them as four impressive debutants and the great thing about it is, whatever they achieve this year, we think they are only going to step up and improve upon going forward as three-year-olds. Ulysses wasn’t at his best really until he was a three and four-year-old.”
“Our main roster has always been traditionally more speed orientated. Ulysses was a step away from that, to try something different. So far so good. We’ve supported him with a lot of our own speedier mares as well. A lot of our clients did too. They are starting to be rewarded for that. He will get those Pivotal mares we have crossing onto them. It’s exciting.”
Unfortunately was transferred to Oak Lodge Stud after one season and Sigsworth professes to be pleased with the first yearlings in the ring at the moment.
“They look tough, racy two-year-old types, very much as he was.”
Dutch Art’s limited fertility confines him to a book of just 20 mares a season but Starman advertised the richness of his DNA when victorious in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket, although injury has precipitated the four-year-old’s retirement this week.
Fees for 2022 have yet to be determined but certainly, the decision to reduce them this year in acknowledgement of the challenges facing clients in the throes of Covid-19 was well received.
Meanwhile, if we are to look for an encapsulation of the Cheveley Park way, and thus the Thompson model, it is in Inspiral.
A delighted Patricia Thompson and jockey Frankie Dettori pose with Inspiral after that unbeaten filly’s superb victory in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket. She goes into the winter as favourite for both next year’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks.
“It’s what we aspire for and dream about. We are still on cloud nine after Friday. Unbeaten in four and heading into the winter favourite for the Guineas. She is really exciting, particularly because she is so raw and has a lot more improvement physically to come. She is far from the finished article so has done well to achieve what she has.”
“When Mr Thompson passed away, Mrs Thompson very much said we are going to continue as normal. That’s what she wanted and what we’ve done. We saw last week at Tattersalls. It was great to get a fresh bloodline into the stud and that filly will go into training and hopefully win – maybe some Group races as well – before eventually coming back to the stud as a broodmare. It’s all very much a long-term plan.”