Melbourne Cup on Show at Widden
Breednet - Media Release - Friday, 11 August 2017

AMONG the visitors to the first two of the four successive open days to be conducted August 24-27 by Australia's most iconic thoroughbred stud, Widden, will be representatives of the Victoria Racing Club (VRC).They will be the escorts for Australia's most coveted racing trophy, the $200,00018-carat Gold Cup, which is to be collected by connections of the winner of the 2017 $6million Melbourne Cup.

It is to be on display on the Thursday and Friday at the Widden showing, one which is to be highlighted each day by the parading before guests of their high quality band of stallions.

Their hosting of the Melbourne Cup party is in a program now in its fifteenth year of an annual pilgrimage of the Cup trophy around Australia and New Zealand.This year's tour includes visits to 31 locations, including centres in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania and New Zealand.

The schedule was launched on May 30 at the Lloyd Williams Macedon Lodge thoroughbred complex at Macedon in Victoria, a property on which the Williams owned Melbourne Cup winners Green Moon and Almandin were prepared for their tilts at the Cup glory.

The Williams appear to have a very good candidate for the 2017 Melbourne Cup in Aloft, an Ireland bred Galileo gelding who won over 2000m at Flemington on August 5. They race him with a group of owners, including Coolmore Ireland.

After the launch, this year's tour started on July 1 at West Wyalong, NSW, the district in which the gold for the Cup was mined. Also in July, a significant visit was to Nowra NSW south coast. Braidwood NSW bred Archer, the winner of the first two Melbourne Cups,1861 and 1862, was trained near Nowra by his owner Etienne De Mestre. He also owned and trained the winners of the 1867 (Tim Whiffler) and 1878 (Calamia) Cups and conditioned the 1877 Cup winner, Chester, for a doyan of colonial breeding and racing, James White.

At the time the Melbourne Cup was held for the first time a family by the name of Thompson had moved across the mountain from Rylestone, central western NSW, into the now famous Widden Valley. Seven generations later they are still there and continuing to produce good thoroughbreds on Widden. It is a tradition they began 150 years ago which saw them become a great source of Melbourne Cup runners – bred or sired on Widden or their neighbouring property, Oakleigh.

The first top line performer bred by the Thompsons listed in the late Douglas Barrie's 1967 published book, the Valley of Champions, the history of Widden, was Oakleigh, the winner in 1887 of the Caulfield Cup and seventh in the Melbourne Cup. Oakleigh was by an early sire used at the Thompson's Widden Valley studs, Chester's year younger brother Roodee.

The breeder of Oakleigh, Joseph C. Thompson, had a big paddock between Oakleigh and Widden Stud recognised as Joe's Paddock. After the second World War it became Baramul stud and hosted one of the greatest sires in Australian history, Star Kingdom.

Two early sires used by the Thompsons in the Widden Valley who supplied Cup runners were Lochiel (five times champion Australian sire) and Grafton (four), while winners of the Cup reared on Widden were Lord Cardigan (won in1903 – Wakeful second and runner up in 1904 – died a few days later), Posinatus (won in 1913) and Spearfelt (third at three in1924, near the tail in 1925 and the winner in equal track record time in 1926).

Spearfelt arrived at Widden as an orphan foal and was sold by them as a yearling in Sydney.When third at his first attempt at the Cup, the winner was the imported Bachelor's Double sire Backwood, subsequently a. competent sire at Widden. - Brian Russell Media

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