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Scott Williams has vintage week in Melbourne

Scott Williams' faith in Defensive Play as a broodmare sire helped produce a double success at the Flemington Cup carnival that few small breeders could ever dream of.
Williams, an accountant from Cambridge who works with a number of people in the racing industry, was the co-breeder of Melbourne Cup winner Efficient with his Wellington friend Graeme Hunt, and for good measure he also bred Zarita, winner of the Wakeful Stakes (G2-2000m).

Zarita later finished unplaced when favourite for the Victoria Oaks (G1-2500m), but with two major victories he wasn't complaining – especially as he still had a share in Efficient.

The pair contributed to a fantastic carnival for Defensive Play, as another of his daughters produced Sirmione, winner of the Mackinnon Stakes (G1-2000m).
Defensive Play, by Fappiano, wasn't the most successful sire brought to New Zealand but Williams has plenty of faith in him. He owns four Defensive Play mares, and that doesn't include Efficient's dam Refused The Dance, owned by Hunt.

"His progeny had good bone and good attitude but they had a fair bit of stamina and probably needed to be mated to sprinting sires," Williams said. "But he got a lot of staying mares and the foals were probably too stout, but I always believed he could be a good influence in New Zealand as a broodmare sire."

Refused The Dance was bought by Hunt as a yearling for $82,500 at the Karaka Premier Sale in 1998. She was a daughter of Florida Jig, a three-time Listed winner in the United States brought to New Zealand in the 1980s.

It was a family Hunt was familiar with as his friend Mike Sellars – one of the partners in Efficient – bred the 10-time winner The Shiner from her. She had also produced the listed winner Dancing Flojo to Amazing Dancer before being sold to Peter Setchell of Millfield Stud, who sold Refused The Dance.

She proved a useful mare, winning twice and placing at listed level in the Avondale Classic (L-1200m) at two, before being sent to stud. Hunt first sent her to Volksraad and Stravinsky but couldn't get to Zabeel by himself without help.

That's when his friend Williams came in. "I had a share in Zabeel and wanted to send one of my mares to her but she was in foal from a late service and I couldn't send her," he said.
"I needed a replacement and I talked to Graeme, who wanted to go to Zabeel but he didn't want to pay the whole fee (which that year was $110,000 plus GST). We decided to go pool our resources and send her to Zabeel, which is why we're both down as Efficient's breeders."

Williams, whose previous best product was the South Australian Oaks winner Dowry, said the way Efficient developed as a young horse showed that it pays not to pass judgment too quickly.

"When I saw him as an eight day old foal I thought I'd done my dough," he said. "But we let him develop at Curraghmore Stud (near Hamilton) and when I next saw him, as a yearling, he'd grown into a lovely horse."

Efficient was sold to Lloyd Williams for $220,000 at Karaka in 2005, though Williams and Hunt retained a share along with Hunt's friends Mike and Tony Sellars.
Zarita is a filly Williams bred himself. He bought her dam Gin Player from the estate of the late Neil Waddell in 2002, partly because he liked what the early foals looked like.

One of those foals, Run Like The Wind, by Pins, went on to win the Concorde (G2-1200m) at Avondale in 2005, and the first one Williams bred, Joy And Fun (by Cullen), now a four-year-old, was named Champion Griffin (first-season galloper) in Hong Kong in 2005-06 after winning five races. He is now getting ready for a new campaign in early 2007.

"Gin Player is quite a big mare and is unbroken and damaged her foot as a foal which is quite painful and she will struggle with it for the rest of her life, but I thought she had real potential," Williams said.

After foaling Joy And Fun, Gin Player was sent to Pentire, a sire he thought highly of and one he thought would be physically compatible. The result was Zarita, a filly he wouldn't have minded keeping but for his financial circumstances that year.

"I didn't want to sell her but I had so few horses that year that I needed to sell the ones I had for the cashflow. I sold every yearling I had that year."

The market clearly liked Zarita as bidding went up to $190,000 at Karaka last year before she was sold. She is now in the stable of Pat Hyland, who produced her to win the Wakeful Stakes.

Gin Player's next foal, by Spartacus, was sold for $180,000 at Karaka this year to New Zealand Bloodstock. She has a Pins colt at foot and is in foal to Zabeel, and Williams is very much hoping for a filly.

Williams will breed 27 mares this year, though many are mares he's leased to go to two stallions he has shares in, Bachelor Duke and Handsome Ransom. The ones he buys himself he has a clear philosophy about.

"For my own horses I'm only interested in premier-level mares. That's the best place to be in the market."

- Alastair Bull