The Cheveley Park Stud racing colours have been a fabric of the British racing scene for decades and the stud farm itself, located just outside of Newmarket, in the village of Cheveley, has a wealth of history.
Course Specialist was privileged to recently catch up with Chris Richardson, Managing Director at the Stud, to look at its long, proud history – and exciting future.
What is the history of the stud?
The stud site has a rich history and association with horses, stretching back to the time of King Aethelstan in the 10th Century. Cheveley Park became an established centre of thoroughbred breeding in the early 18th Century under the fifth Duke of Rutland, who bred four Classic winners. Harry McCalmont purchased the 7,800 acre estate in 1892. He built a large mansion and a number of stud buildings, most notably Isinglass’s spacious box which Pivotal now occupies. The latest chapter began in 1975, the year that David and Patricia Thompson purchased Cheveley Park Stud.
What famous stallions have stood at Cheveley Park down the years?
Isinglass was bred by Harry McCalmont and was born at the stud in 1890. Isinglass was a phenomenal horse, a Triple Crown winner who set a world record for prize money attained. In turn, Isinglass sired three Classic winners and later became the leading broodmare sire. In 1977 Mr and Mrs Thompson retired their Gimcrack Stakes winner, Music Boy, to the stud. From a crop of just 17 foals, Music Boy became Champion First Season Sire and his progeny earned over £2.5 million. Other notable sires include Primo Dominie, Polar Falcon and, of course, the ’mighty’ Pivotal, whose legacy continues to influence the breeding industry and will be long lived.
How much land does Cheveley Park Stud cover and how many staff work there?
Cheveley Park Stud, Sandwich Stud, Ashley Heath Stud and Warren Hill Stud all encompass approximately 1,000 acres between them. There are currently more than 50 members of staff working across the estate.
How many horses are typically based there? Do you board or just have your own broodmare string?
Currently, we have about 340 horses on the stud, including stallions, mares, horses out of training, yearlings and foals. Cheveley Park Stud caters for Mr and Mrs Thompson’s private broodmare band, thus does not board any outside mares.
Which stallions are you standing for 2019?
We are currently standing Pivotal, Ulysses, Intello, Dutch Art, Twilight Son, Unfortunately, Mayson, Garswood, and Lethal Force. Unfortunately is an exciting addition to the roster for 2019; he is a Group 1-winning Champion Juvenile and the top rated son of Society Rock, who was himself a Champion First Crop Sire.
How many mares will Pivotal cover nowadays? Is his fertility as high as ever?
Pivotal will cover a book of around 50 mares in 2019, as he did in 2018. He looks marvellous for a 26 year old and is a real legend and his fertility, this season, remains around 88%.
How is Ulysses doing at stud and what are the early signs for him with the foals that have been born?
Ulysses has settled in to his new life exceptionally well. He is a magnificent specimen with an impeccable pedigree and a race record to match. In his first year at stud he covered 115 mares, including 8 Group 1 winners, the dams of 6 Group 1 winners, and 18 full or half-sisters to Group 1 winners. Mr and Mrs Thompson are eager to give Ulysses every chance to succeed and his first two books contain a good level of support from their own broodmare band. We have been delighted with Ulysses’ first foals, who all have great depth, bone and athleticism. All in all, the early indications are very exciting indeed.
How important is it for the stud farm to have representatives on the racecourse in those famous silks? How has that helped to maintain the profile of the stud farm?
Extremely important, after all, the primary aim of the stud operation is to breed success on the racecourse. Mr and Mrs Thompson have loved seeing their colours carried to victory on the track for over 40 years and the famous red, white and blue silks have become part of the fabric of British horse racing.
How many racehorses do you have in training this year?
We have about 118 Flat horses in training for this season, spread between 16 different trainers. We also have about 18 National Hunt horses, who provided Mr and Mrs Thompson with a great deal of excitement through the winter.
What prompted Mr and Mrs Thompson to have National Hunt runners this past winter and how much did it mean to win at the Cheltenham Festival?
Mr Thompson decided last year that he wanted to have some fun and some entertainment during the winter. They obviously love what goes on at the stud and on the Flat, but Mr Thompson felt the winters were a bit slow. He wanted to have runners at Cheltenham and five were provided for them this year, and to have had two winners was sublime and an enormous thrill for the Thompson family and all of us associated with Cheveley Park Stud.
Which racehorses are you most looking forward to during 2019?
Our flagbearers for the upcoming season will include Pilaster, winner of the Group 2 Lillie Langtry; Regal Reality, winner of the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes; Veracious, winner of the Group 3 Atalanta Stakes; and Angel’s Hideaway, winner of the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes. They will all have Group 1 ambitions during the course of the year. In addition, we have plenty of exciting unraced young stock on the stud and in training who we can dream about.
What are your main hopes for the stud this year?
We are extremely pleased with the first crop of foals by Ulysses, so we are obviously looking forward to showcasing some of them later in the year. Twilight Son has his first crop of yearlings to sell this year, who look typical Kyllachy/trainer’s types. His foals were very popular last year and returned a very good average, of just under 30,000 Guineas, with a strong median in relation to his fee. Judging by how well his first crop are developing as yearlings, we are very hopeful that they will prove just as popular at the sales this year.
Since this interview, Veracious, a daughter of Frankel, has won the Group One Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.
To discover more about Cheveley Park Stud, please visit: www.cheveleypark.co.uk