Antony Thompson says to survive in an increasingly global thoroughbred breeding industry, stud farms need to get bigger to compete, a realisation which led to his decision to take on a Victorian holding with his family’s famed Widden Stud, Australia’s oldest thoroughbred farm.
Widden principal Thompson yesterday confirmed the 154-year-old NSW stud, founded in 1867 and home to champion stallions throughout its long and rich history, will embark on a bold new challenge by taking over the Sun Stud operation, encompassing the eight-strong stallion roster at the Riddells Creek property.
As inspections get underway for the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, the announcement of Widden’s move comes at a time when the Victorian breeding industry undergoes a significant shake-up, with Sun Stud’s decision to shut up shop following that of Aquis Farm exiting the state, leaving Leneva Park to fill the void by taking over the Seymour-based stallion business.
“If you tread water eventually you will drown, so it is a bit about the horse business around the world, you get bigger or you will go backwards, so I think it is a really good fit and the things we do we can replicate in Victoria,” seventh generation Thompson told ANZ Bloodstock News late yesterday.
“It is something we have been looking at for a while and we had discussed expanding our brand and adding to our business. It is not something that has been opportunistic.
“When the opportunity presented with Aquis getting out of Victoria and Sun Stud and Woodside, to a degree, getting out of the stallion business, we thought if ever there was a chance to do it, there is no better time than now.”
In a move aimed at bolstering Widden’s presence in Victoria, its Group 1-producing sires Nicconi (Bianconi) and Star Witness (Starcraft) will relocate from NSW, joining Sun Stud’s existing roster of Magnus (Flying Spur), Fiorente (Monsun), Palentino (Teofilo), shuttler National Defense (Invincible Spirit), Ready For Victory (More Than Ready), Squamosa (Not A Single Doubt), Thronum (Snitzel) and veteran Bel Esprit (Royal Academy).
“We are going to look to add some nice young horses down there as well, but I think the marketplace, speaking to the breeders, is crying out for some good proven stallions and certainly Nicconi, Magnus and Star Witness are three top-notch proven sires in Victoria,” Thompson said.