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Long-time Victorian breeders get Group 1

Sopressa & Harry Coffey after winning the Australasian Oaks (Atkins Photography)

They may have wound back their breeding operations, but Cathy Webb and Ken Dean can now say they have bred a Group 1 winner.

Under the banner of the Victorian Stallion Partnership, Webb and Dean bred Saturday’s Australasian Oaks winner Sopressa (So You Think).

“Ken (Dean) and I have been involved in the breeding industry for over 30 years, but it was our first Group One winner,” Cathy Webb explained.

“It’s terrific that Sopressa managed to win a Group One and good for the farm as well, but even more special given that Harry rode the winner. He’s a fine young lad and part of a lovely family. Great to see.”

It was the 29th win at racing’s elite level for the filly’s trainer Darren Weir – which includes a Melbourne Cup – but the normally laid-back trainer was clearly relishing this one given it was also a first Group 1 win for loyal jockey Harry Coffey.

Indeed, Harry Coffey’s first winner was aboard one of Weir’s gallopers, but this was to be the first Group One winner for the 22-year-old hoop.

That in itself is hardly unique, but given that Coffey suffers from cystic fibrosis, it was one ‘helluva’ mountain to climb.

The Oaks was Sopressa’s third win from ten career the most recent being her 4.3 length victory in the Group 3 Auraria Stakes over 1800 metres at Morphettville on 21 April.

Sopressa is one of five winners for the multiple Group 2 winning Weasel Clause mare Hidden Strings, who was purchased in foal to So You Think at the 2014 Inglis Sydney Weanling and Bloodstock Sale for just $70,000.

The lucky buyers were Webb and Ken and they decided to sell the subsequent offspring – now named Sopressa – as a weanling, through the Bucklee Farm draft at the 2015 Inglis Great Southern Sale for $70,000.

Since then, Cathy and Ken have scaled back their operation. Having once stood five stallions in Victoria and bred up to 25 mares, they now have a very modest involvement.

“These days I’ve only got a share in Warhorse, a Group 1 winning 2YO by General Nediym, who stands at Bombora Downs, but it’s never too late to get your first Group 1 winner!” Dean said.

“(Sopressa’s dam) Hidden Strings was later sold, but we also bred a colt by Warhorse out of her which was sold through the Bucklee Farm draft for $60,000 at last month’s Inglis VOBIS Gold Yearling Sale … the day after Sopressa won the Auraria (Stakes).”

Bucklee Farm’s Leeanne Smith remembers Sopressa as a youngster when being prepared for the weanling sale.

Sopressa as a weanling at Three Bridges Thoroughbreds

“Sopressa was quite a forward foal, nicely balanced and well developed … she looked quite a bit like her mum,” Smith recalls.

She was bought for $70,000 by Ballarat’s Danny and Dianne Molloy who then parked the filly at Eddington’s Three Bridges Thoroughbreds to grow into a racehorse and debut last Spring as a three-year-old.

Leicester beates Sopressa in a 3YO Maiden Plate at Terang on 31st January (Reg Ryan-Racing Photos)

Interestingly, both Sopressa and this Saturday’s South Australian Derby favourite Leicester (Wanted) were pin-hooked and then both raised at Three Bridges before entering racing stables. Earlier in this preparation, both raced in a January 31st maiden at Terang with Leicester winning by a couple of lengths to second-placed Sopressa.

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