Unprecedented black-type weekend for Westbury

By Richard Edmunds

11 May 2023

Unprecedented black-type weekend for WestburyWestbury Stud-bred colt Solidify exhibited familiar qualities with his dominant win in the Listed Wa

There have been many highlights throughout the more than two-decade history of Westbury Stud, but a flurry of black-type successes across Australasia last weekend took the Gerry Harvey-owned operation into uncharted territory.
Westbury-bred horses won no fewer than four stakes races within the space of three and a half hours on Saturday afternoon.
Two-year-olds Solidify and Illicit Dreams got the day underway with impressive Listed victories at Te Rapa and Riccarton respectively. Westbury’s quartet was later rounded out by two further successes in Queensland, where Renaissance Woman captured the Listed Gold Coast Bracelet and Essonne added the Listed Silk Stocking.
“We’ve had plenty of great days in the past, including breeding Derby and Oaks winners, but four stakes winners in a single day is something that I don’t think we’ve ever done before,” Westbury general manager Russell Warwick told RaceForm.
“That’s the sort of achievement that’s usually the domain of the Waikato and Cambridge Studs of this world. For us to do it is very heartening and something that Gerry and all of our team can be very proud of.”
The Listed Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre 2YO Stakes was the second win from three starts for Solidify, who at this early stage of his career is showing remarkable similarities to his outstanding year-older stablemate Sharp ’N’ Smart. Both are by Redwood, both were bred by Westbury, and both were bought by Graeme Rogerson from Westbury’s drafts at Karaka.
Sharp ’N’ Smart used an autumn Listed win on home soil as a springboard to Queensland, where he placed in the Listed Phoenix and ran an unlucky fourth in the Gr. 1 JJ Atkins. He hit even greater heights at three, winning the Gr. 1 Spring Champion Stakes, Herbie Dyke Stakes and New Zealand Derby, running second in the Gr. 1 Victoria Derby and fourth on unsuitable heavy ground in the Gr. 1 Australian Derby.
Solidify is set to have the opportunity to follow in his paternal sibling’s footsteps, with Rogerson pencilling him in for a trip to Queensland over the coming weeks.
“Graeme Rogerson appears to have got himself another very promising son of Redwood,” Warwick said. “He’s a bit like Sharp ’N’ Smart in that every time you ask him for more, he finds a bit more. He’s exciting.
“You always take things one step at a time, but I see no reason why he can’t follow the same sort of path that Sharp ’N’ Smart did last year, and do so with some confidence that he’s not going to disgrace himself. With a bit of luck, you never know – he could head home at the end of the winter with some Australian Group One or Group Two form to his name.
“Solidify’s pedigree page is quite a significant one for us at Westbury, being out of a full-sister to our Oaks-winning mare Royal Descent. That’s something that we’re quite mindful of too, with him still being a colt. If he could go on to achieve just a little bit of what Sharp ’N’ Smart did, it gives him another dimension later in his life. He could end up being an attractive stallion prospect.”
Illicit Dreams, meanwhile, is a daughter of the Golden Slipper-winning sire Vancouver and out of a sadly short-lived Snitzel mare.
“She’s the last foal out of the mare, who unfortunately got colic in 2021,” Warwick said. “We did surgery but weren’t able to save her. It’s one of the pitfalls of this business – you lose a lovely young mare like her, and within 18 months she’s left you a stakes-winning two-year-old from one of her only foals. It leaves you wondering what might have been.”
Both of Saturday’s stakes winners in Queensland are daughters of Reliable Man. Three-year-old filly Renaissance Woman enhanced her claims for next month’s Gr. 1 Queensland Oaks with her Gold Coast Bracelet success, while four-year-old mare Essonne claimed the sixth win of her 12-start career in the Silk Stocking. The 1400-metre fillies and mares’ feature was her first start at stakes level.
“That was quite a remarkable black-type double with very different types of horses – one a sprinting mare over 1400 metres, and the other coming from last to win over 1800 and earning favouritism for the Queensland Oaks,” Warwick said.
“Renaissance Woman was always a gorgeous filly. She was probably the pick of our draft that year as a physical specimen. The owners paid $250,000 for her, and it’s been great to see her win the Gr. 3 Ethereal Stakes in Melbourne in the spring and now add another Listed win in the late autumn. If she could figure prominently in the Oaks too, she’ll become a very valuable proposition for them.”
The other big story for Westbury Stud this week was the service fee for headline stallion Tarzino. The son of Tavistock was hot property last year, serving New Zealand’s biggest book of mares at 197. He stood the 2022 season at a $15,000 service fee that was never going to last, with first-crop three-year-olds Gypsy Goddess and Jungle Magnate both winning at Group One level after that fee was announced.
Tarzino’s fee has risen to $25,000 for the upcoming breeding season.
“We held off setting his service fee for as long as we could last year, hoping he’d have some autumn success,” Warwick said. “By the time we were getting to the end of April, we really had to set his fee. We put it at 15,000, and a month later he had two Group One winners to his name.
“It wasn’t appropriate to raise his fee after we’d already announced it, so we had to cop that on the chin and leave it at $15,000. That saw him serve a massive group of mares, and high-quality ones at that. This adjustment to his fee really reflects what he did last year, as well as how consistently well his progeny have been selling throughout the last 12 months.”