Sebring highlights a stellar day for Widden stallions

6 min read
Widden Stud will always be synonymous with the mighty Vain, the magnificent 1969 Caulfield Guineas winner who called the historic Hunter Valley property home throughout his hugely successful stud career.

This year’s Caulfield Guineas meeting proved to be a red-letter day for Widden, its stallions producing three of the feature-race winners.

Zoustar (Northern Meteor) got the ball rolling when his brilliantly fast daughter Sunlight landed the G3 Thoroughbred Club S. Stratum (Redoute’s Choice), who spent his stud career at Widden prior to his death in September 2016, was represented by the G1 Toorak H. winner Land Of Plenty.

While that horse’s stablemate Amphitrite took the G1 Thousand Guineas to register yet another landmark in the very successful stud career of her sire Sebring (More Than Ready {USA}).

Amphitrite after taking out the G1 Thousand Guineas

Securing a fifth Golden Slipper winner

Widden pulled off a great coup in May 2008 when securing Sebring for stud duties, buying a controlling interest in the brilliant Gai Waterhouse-trained two-year-old (who had cost Denise Martin’s Star Thoroughbreds Syndications $130,000 when picked up at the previous year’s Magic Millions Classic Yearling Sale) in a deal which valued him at $30,000,000.

This agreement meant that Sebring would become the fifth Golden Slipper winner to retire to Widden, following Todman, Vain, Marscay and Stratum.

He looked very well qualified to follow in such illustrious hoofprints. He had won five of his six races that season, starting off as a star of the spring by taking the AJC Breeders’ Plate and then ending up as the outstanding colt of the autumn, taking G1 STC Golden Slipper and G1 AJC Sires’ Produce S. before failing only by millimetres to complete the Two-Year-Olds’ Triple Crown, going down by a nose to the great filly Samantha Miss (Redoute’s Choice) in the G1 AJC Champagne Stakes.

He thus mirrored the achievements of Vain, who had also recorded two wins and a second when contesting all three of Sydney’s premier juvenile contests.

Watch: Sebring

Sebring’s glorious but arduous juvenile campaign appeared to take its toll as recurrent soreness in his second season meant that plans to contest firstly the Spring Carnival and then the Autumn Carnival had both to be aborted.

His absence, incidentally, did not prevent his sire More Than Ready from enjoying another tremendous season, a campaign in which he became only the fifth stallion (after Star Kingdom, Vain, Danehill and Redoute’s Choice) to sire consecutive Golden Slipper winners, thanks to the triumph of Phelan Ready. Sebring duly retired to Widden in the spring of 2009.

He then wasted no time in establishing himself as one of Australia’s elite stallions, his first crop containing two superb horses, Criterion (NZ) and Dissident.


First crop stars

Criterion was the first of the pair to demonstrate his star quality, showing himself to be one of the best juveniles of his generation with victories in the G2 Todman S. at Rosehill and the Black Opal S. in Canberra, as well putting in a very good run in the Golden Slipper. Ultimately he proved himself to be something close to the perfect racehorse. He showed top-class form from 1200m to 3200m and proved himself to be as durable as he had been precocious.

Having been a top-class juvenile, he won Group One races at three (G1 Rosehill Guineas and G1 Australian Derby), four (G1 Queen Elizabeth S.) and five (G1 Caulfield S.). His other superb runs as a five-year-old included splitting the champions Winx (Street Cry {USA}) and Highland Reel (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the G1 W. S. Cox Plate and finishing third under 57.5 kilos G1 Melbourne Cup.

He also showed high-class form overseas at Sha Tin (where he was third in the G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup), Royal Ascot (where he finished fifth to Free Eagle (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}) in the G1 Prince of Wales’s S.) and York (behind Arabian Queen (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Golden Horn (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}) in the G1 International S.).

Remarkably, Criterion, superstar though he was, cannot necessarily be described as the star of Sebring’s first crop. - John Berry

Criterion, from Sebring's first crop turned out to be one of the best juveniles of his generation. Pictured here winning the G1 Caulfield Guineas

Remarkably, Criterion, superstar though he was, cannot necessarily be described as the star of Sebring’s first crop.

That honour arguably could go to five-time Group One winner Dissident (who retired alongside Criterion to Newgate). Having shown very smart form as a two-year-old in the 2012/’13 season, Sebring developed into a top-class three-year-old the following term, failing by only a neck behind Zoustar in the G1 Golden Rose S. in the spring before taking the G1 Randwick Guineas over 1600m and the G2 Hobartville S. over 1400m in the autumn.

The following campaign he was dominant, winning the G1 NZ Bloodstock Memsie S. over 1400m and the G1 Makybe Diva S. over 1600m in the spring before landing the G1 C. F. Orr S. over 1400m and the G1 All Aged S. over the same distance in the autumn.

These triumphs earned him the coveted title of Horse of the Year, as well as Sprinter of the Year, thus capping a terrific season which Sebring had ended in third place (behind Fastnet Rock and Exceed And Excel, and immediately ahead of the former champion sires Encosta De Lago, Redoute’s Choice and Lonhro) in the General Sires’ Table.

Sebring, incidentally, has finished in the top ten every year since, most recently finishing seventh last term, which he ended ranked fourth on individual winners (147) and fifth on individual stakes winners (13).

Dissident took out the coveted title of Horse of the Year

Not just a sire of sprinters

The star of Sebring’s second crop was also a superb sprinter: Lucky Bubbles, who became a multi-millionaire in Hong Kong thanks to a series of outstanding short-course performances, headed by his victory over 1200m in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin in May 2017, having gone down by only a neck to the top-class Australian raider Chautauqua (Encosta De Lago) in the same race 12 months previously. His other terrific runs including second place, beaten only a short head by Aerovelocity (NZ) (Pins), in the G1 HK Sprint at the International Meeting in December 2016.

Widden’s proud tradition of standing top-class stallions dates back decades. Thanks to Sebring and his colleagues, it looks set to run and run.

Sebring’s third Australian Group One winner was Egg Tart, successful last year in the G1 Australasian Oaks over 2000m at Morphettville. She then followed up by doubling her Group One tally the following month when taking the G1 Queensland Oaks over 2400m at Doomben. Thanks to Amphitrite’s Thousand Guineas victory over 1600m on Saturday, Sebring now stands as the sire of two Classic-winning fillies.

That victory ranks as the 42nd Group success for the progeny of Sebring, and the 13th at the highest level. His tally of individual Group winners stands at 26 and also includes the Group Two winners Seaburge, Bring Me The Maid, Believe Yourself (who all won in Group Two company as juveniles), Catch A Fire, Hatori Hanzo, She Brings Joy, Gold Standard, Sesar and Sedanzer.

Widden’s proud tradition of standing top-class stallions dates back decades. Thanks to Sebring and his colleagues, it looks set to run and run.