Slipper rivals siblings form strong bond
THE two foals sharing a paddock at famous Widden Stud have become the best of mates, completely unaware their celebrated siblings are about to race for the world's richest juvenile prize at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
The bay colt is a half-brother to the brilliant filly Sunlight, the $4.20 favourite for the $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper (1200m). By the foal's shoulder is a chestnut colt, a half-brother to unbeaten Written By, Sunlight's main rival.
The foals will get their chance on the racetrack in the years to come but for Sunlight and Written By, this is their time.
At 4.10pm on Saturday, the two glamour two-year-olds are racing for Slipper glory. They have even drawn right alongside each other in barriers four and five.
Sunlight was also born at Widden Stud, a thoroughbred nursery synonymous with Golden Slipper success.
Widden's owner Antony Thompson revealed five Golden Slipper-winning stallions have stood at the Hunter Valley property - Todman (1957), Vain (1969), Marscay (1982), Stratum (2005) and Sebring (2008).
Todman then sired Golden Slipper winners Eskimo Prince (1963) and Sweet Embrace (1967), Vain repeated the feat with Sir Dapper (1983) and Inspired (1984), Marscay sired Bint Marscay (1993) and Stratum was represented by Crystal Lily (2010).
Sebring is still a young stallion but has already been represented by a Golden Slipper placegetter with Bring Me The Maid, third in 2014.
Sunlight is a daughter of Widden Stud's resident sire Zoustar, the first season stallion sensation. The last sire to have a Golden Slipper winner in his first crop was the legendary Danehill with Flying Spur in 1995.
"We are chuffed to see Zoustar doing so well, he is having a great start with his first crop,'' Thompson said.
Sunlight's dam is the former brilliant speedster, Solar Charged, who Thompson purchased in foal to Sebring.
"We brought Solar Charged with Sheikh Fahad Al Thani to put to Zoustar,'' Thompson said. "We wanted to buy some nice mares for the stallion and Solar Charged was one we identified.
"The filly she was carrying at the time turned out to be Sheikha, who is a promising three-year-old.''
Thompson then sent Solar Charged to Zoustar and the resultant foal was a filly later named Sunlight. She was among Widden's draft at the 2017 Magic Millions Yearling Sales where trainer Tony McEvoy purchased her for $300,000.
McEvoy liked the filly's conformation, breeding and her spirit. Widden Stud staff had told him the filly always had an "attitude and was a bit feisty".
Thompson's wife, Katie, also had a soft spot for the filly and found it hard to let her go. So, she formed an all-female syndicate to race the filly.
Sheikh Fahad's assistant, Hannah Wall took shares, another of Widden's loyal clients, breeder Dan Fletcher put his wife and daughter into the syndicate, Aquis Farm's Tony Fung's wife, Loretta, is a shareholder, as is a couple of McEvoy's owners.
"It's a nice, little group and has been a great ride so far,'' Katie Thompson said.
Although Mrs Thompson has raced a couple of horses with moderate success previously, she has really hit the jackpot with Sunlight.
Sunlight has won five races in succession from six starts, including the Magic Millions, Silver Slipper and Magic Night Stakes for more than $1.86 million prizemoney.
"I raced General Peekay and he was a nice, handy horse,'' she said. "He has retired now but is here at Widden as a riding pony.
"But it is such a thrill to have a Golden Slipper runner, particularly a filly that was born and raised her from our first season stallion, Zoustar.
"I don't usually get nervous but as the days are getting closer to the Golden Slipper, I am starting to feel quite nervous. It is so exciting.''
# Zoustar can emulate his sire (Northern Meteor) and grandsire (Encosta De Lago) by becoming Champion Australian First Season Sire if Sunlight can win the Golden Slipper.