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From small beginnings the Witters have bred another Group 1 winner

Foreign Copy has done it again. Another of her progeny has found Group success at the races, this time through her granddaughter Samantha Miss, winner of the Group 1 Champagne Stakes over 1600 metres at Royal Randwick in Sydney earlier this month where she beat the mighty 2 year old star Sebring.
Samantha Miss, bred by Gary and Lyn Witters, wins the Group One Champagne Stakes at Royal Randwick, Sydney.
Photo: Arrowfield website

Sebring won the coveted Group 1 Golden Slipper and the Group 1 Sire's Produce Stakes, where Samantha Miss ran a valiant second placing on 26 April before turning the tables a week later in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes. Trained by Kris Lees, Samantha Miss was an Aus$1.5 million purchase at the 2007 Inglis Easter yearling sale. Just over a year later she has proven her value at the races. A daughter of Redoute's Choice out of Milliyet, who is a Zabeel mare out of Foreign Copy, Samantha Miss burst onto the Sydney Metropolitan racing scene with an impressive maiden win before finding Group glory.

For those of you not familiar with the story of Foreign Copy's owners, Gary and Lyn Witters, it is an intriguing story that champions persistence and 'that gut feeling' so many override with reason.

"A long time ago, it started with one mare which I bought out of Karaka with the intention of racing, and that was Foreign Copy. I had a chicken farm at the time and my father-in-law was around so we went out to Karaka just to have a look, really for something to do. We had no intention of buying anything, but when I saw her pedigree, I decided to buy her. I knew enough at that time to know her pedigree was good," says Gary Witters. Foreign Copy is by Bold Venture, a grandson of Bold Ruler, out of the Showoff II mare Fleet Street.

Witters continues, "She got injured at the and of her three year old preparation and we had to decide what to do so we sent her to Zabeel, who we really liked, and she ended up visiting him 10 times I think."

Out of those 10 visits to Zabeel she produced three very special horses. Her first foal was Cronus and her third Pravda. Cronus was a consistent Group performer in the 90's whose victories included the Group 1 Adelaide Cup and the Group 2 Hawke's Bay Cup and Group 2 Awapuni Gold Cup. Pravda won the Group 3 Chairman's Handicap at Randwick and the Group 2 Taranaki Cup, but is most famous for her near-start in the Melbourne Cup. Her eighth foal was Milliyet, who did not race but produced Samantha Miss.

"It was always our intention to keep one of the fillies, says Witters, "and we kept Milliyet and decided to breed her in Australia because there was more choice for sprinting stallions, stallions that would cross well with the Zabeel line. We discussed the mare with many stallion owners, and then started with Choisir, then Anabaa, then Redoute's Choice, then Anabaa again and she's currently in foal to Redoute's Choice again."

The success of Milliyet at stud has been somewhat of a consolation for the Witters. "Foreign Copy died about 3 months ago. We had to have her put down, she was injured but we kept a filly out of Foreign Copy by Viking Ruler that we are going to try and race. At the moment she is a paddock mate for another horse, but basically Milliyet is the only one we're breeding from now," says Witters.

"We're not big into racing, we just have an interest with one or two. We breed to sell, but we closely follow everything we breed. It's only a hobby for us, even though I follow Samantha Miss' races, we actually didn't know she was running because we were in Fiji with our granddaughters and missed the whole thing.

"It was a nice welcome home gift to find that Samantha Miss had won a Group 1. We walked in the door and the phone rang and it was a friend who said 'congratulations', and I said, 'what for' and he told me Samantha Miss had just won a Group 1.

"We had a lot of luck with Cronus, who was the first foal we ever bred. And Pravda was a good horse as well, but Samantha Miss might still prove to be the best we've bred so far, certainly the best from the family. I'd like to keep breeding to Redoute's Choice.

If Samantha Miss comes out at three and keeps running, we'll probably keep her full sibling who is in utero now."
- Stacey Akers


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