Cheveley Broodmares, the Gallops and History
11 March 2011 – 31 March 2011
By Matthew Scown
Cheveley Park Stud,
How time really does fly by, already over the half way point at this magnificent stud farm and historical town. I am having a brilliant and eventful time here at Cheveley Park Stud. Everyone from the vets, managers and the staff members have been more than happy to answer my never ending questions to learn more how the top studs in the Northern Hemisphere successfully breed their champion thoroughbreds.
Since the year 1975 David and Patricia Thompson have been the proud owners of Cheveley Park Stud, in the time they have owned the beautiful Stud they have expanded from 280 acres of land to just under 1000 acres to this day.
Mr and Mrs Thompson owned their first racehorse in 1966 and from there the success in the thoroughbred world was about to begin. The Thompsons hit the ground running with the 1,800 guineas purchase of a son of Jukebox, Music Boy. Locally trained Music Boy won the 1975 Gimcrack Stakes and spent his stud career at Cheveley Park Stud. In 1977 Music Boy stood at stud alongside Primo Dominie, Prince Sabo, Scottish Reel and Tina’s Pet where he had a very triumphant start from 17 foals.
Music Boy was leading first season sire, his progeny earned over 2.5 million pounds. In memory of Music Boy there is a striking life-sized bronze statue of him running, outside the front of the main office.
There are five different divisions of Cheveley Park that include.
· Main Cheveley- Which hosts half of the foaling unit (roughly 40 mares in foal), the maiden mares and barren mares and of course the stallion unit, consists of five top stallions including Dutch Art, Kyllachy, Virtual, Medicean and Pivotal, (I will get into more about ‘the boys’ in a later blog).
· Strawberry Hill- A small block of land no more than 40 acres which is used for spelling for the racing team. It is very well equipped for its purpose with a large barn with plenty of boxes, a walker and a variety of paddocks small and large.
· Sandwich- Which is the yearling division of Cheveley. Sandwich has lovely big rolling paddocks and three large barns and exercise areas, perfect for a yearling preparation.
· Ashley Heath and Warren Hill- Hosts the other half of the amazing broodmares that Mr and Mrs Thompson possess. The design of this part of the massive stud farm is very practical for mares and foals with plenty of boxes and restriction areas for the new born foals.
Recently I have been lucky enough to accompany Chris Richardson on ‘The Gallops’. I knew I was in an original thoroughbred town when we had to stop and give way to the horses and jockeys crossing the road.
As Mr and Mrs Thompson have 99 horses in training Chris and I had a lot of horses to follow from the fresh two year olds to the old campaigners. The Thompsons have six local trainers around Newmarket including, James Fanshawe, John Gosden, William Haggas, Jeremy Noseda, Sir Mark Prescott and Sir Michael Stoute who is also director of Cheveley Park.
We were out on a crisp Saturday morning at 6.45am to be welcomed by the legendary view of Warren Hill and the Heath gallops, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my morning. Standing in the middle of Warren Hill looking down the four furlong stretch of bare land, strings of 15 to 20 thoroughbreds worked their way up either side of Chris and I; it was so peaceful that the sound of their hooves hitting the ground was all I could hear as they rapidly approached us. As we were watching, William Haggas rode his trusty hack up the hill beside us to show Chris and I his first string coming out, which of course included some of Cheveley’s runners. Mr Haggas gave us a running commentary of each and every horse that went past.
I was particularly interested in one of his colts by the name of Fury. Fury- By Invincible Spirit out of Courting (GB) by Pursuit of Love. As a two year old Fury won the Group 1 Tattersalls Millions two year old trophy. He is improving with age. His dam Courting had an impressive race record with only ten starts for six wins including two Listed races.
After Mr Haggas’s string had finished impressing us, I was taken to meet Sir Michael Stoute. He toured me through his magnificent training establishment where he has around 160 horses in work at one time. The yard was very well run and equipped with everything from an undercover warm up area, a swimming pool and plenty of boxes with great ground staff to maintain the lovely establishment.
My weekend was amazing I couldn’t have put a price on what I was shown, but I was very excited to start the week at Main Cheveley with the broodmares and foals. My day commenced at 7.30am in the breakfast room, where I met stud groom Dale Clements and the rest of the team. Everyone was very welcoming and made it easy for me to get into the flow of what is required in a day’s work. Our first job was to get all the horses not required for the vet out of their straw boxes and into their paddocks. All the horses are out during the day and come in later in the afternoon for their dinner and fresh warm straw beds for the miserable cold nights, as the weather is very harsh on the young foals. Like the mares, all foals are fitted with leather head collars from the day they are born to begin handling and leading. I took to it like a duck to water.
Cheveley main yard and office
It is such a great atmosphere working on the stud we all joke and have a laugh whilst doing the not so exciting jobs such as mucking out, it really makes the day fly by. Dale always made sure I was nearby to assist with the vet work so I could bombard Andrew McGladdery (Rossdale and Partners Vet Services) with my questions. I was also put to the test by Andrew Snell who fired questions right back at me to keep me on my toes.
I could really relate to a lot of the staff here as some of them have worked a season or more in New Zealand, such as Dale himself who was the handler of well known shuttle stallion Groom Dancer. He constantly shares his thoughts of utter repulsion about our beer.
The broodmare band here is like nothing I have ever seen before, with 112 mares on the stud, it is rare to find one that has not acquired some claim to fame, whether it is in the broodmare paddock or on the racetrack. Here is an example of the quality broodmares that I have been privileged enough to be involved with.
· Canda (USA)- By Storm Cat, was purchased at the Keeneland November Sale for $2,400,000. She is the dam of one winner, a bay colt by Elusive Quality named Evasive won two at two years including one Group 3. Canda is in the family of the great Kingmambo. (Oasis Dream filly at foot).
· Choir Mistress (GB)- By Chief Singer, with no history on the race track she went straight to the broodmare paddock. Choir Mistress is the dam of six winners including one outstanding filly named Chorist (Pivotal), with a race record of nine wins, one Group one, two Group threes, and three Listed races she was happily retained by Cheveley Park. (Pivotal colt at foot).
· Confidential Lady (GB)- By Singspiel. Of 14 starts, she had five wins, three seconds and two thirds with a total earnings of 509,283.45 pounds. She improved with age with a Group three and a Listed win as a two year old to go on and win her first Group one at three years. (Duke of Marmalade colt at foot).
As you could tell I just love getting up in the morning knowing what I will be working with, a future champion I could be leading or a Group winning race mare I could be feeding. I always think about what it would be like to have one of these mares in my back paddock.
I am very happy to say that with the pass of the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival (27 races stretched over four days of jumps racing) brings the start of the flat racing season. The first race meeting in Newmarket is the Craven breeze up race meeting on the 13th and 14th of April and of course we (Cheveley Park) will have a selection of runners to follow, I cannot wait.
Finally I would like to say I was delighted to see that Japanese racehorse Victoire Pisa won the “World’s Richest Race”, the $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup. Japan has been through a horrible time but hopefully this win will help lift the country.
I have a lot happening and a lot to talk about but that will have to wait for my next blog, I will be talking about walk outs to the different stud farms around England, the Craven Breeze Up sales and races and I will also slot in more history about this wonderful stud.
Keep well everybody,