They say good things come in threes.
And that was certainly the case for the Liston family and their team at Eddington’s Three Bridges farm.
Firstly, the farm-grown filly Sopressa took out the Australasian Oaks at Morphettville. Scone Cup breeding success followed last Friday with Sedanzer victorious (see separate story). And then, on Saturday, another Three Bridges farm product Leicester won the South Australian Derby.
Both classic winners were pin-hooked weanlings which clients placed at the farm and let them grow out to become mature racehorses. Only Leicester raced as a two-year-old and that was in the last month of his juvenile season.
Sopressa (So You Think) was bought for $70,000 by Ballarat’s Danny and Dianne Molloy of Dowling Park at the Inglis Great Southern Weanling Sale from the Bucklee Farm draft…having been bred by long time Victorian breeders Cathy Webb and Ken Dean.
Leicester (Wanted) meanwhile was bred at Yarraman Park and bought by bloodstock agent Paul Willetts together with West Australian businessman Gary Johnson for a mere $10,000 at the Inglis Australian Weanling Sale.
In both cases the buyers were loyal clients of Three Bridges, so the youngsters were shipped over to Eddington and left to grow out.
Three Bridges’ Toby Liston said patience was critical with both star horses.
“We gave them both plenty of time to naturally grow into racehorses. Neither had a yearling preparation and, interestingly enough. Leicester stepped onto the track only as a late two-year-old while Sopressa made her debut last spring as a three-year-old.”
Liston is now thrilled that the results prove that all the hard work and effort are paying off in Group 1 rewards particularly for their owners.
“(Leicester co-owner) Gary Johnson is our biggest client and supporter of the farm. He believes and trusts in us and has confidence that our systems work.
“Gary started with a fifty percent share in one horse with us and now he has roughly 60 with us!
“He has been pretty lucky too, having had eight horses with Spicer Thoroughbreds for eight winners. That includes Queensland Derby bound Lucky For All and the Caulfield Cup favourite Kings Will Dream. But to his credit he makes his own luck as he gets good people to look after his horses.”
The similarities between the two classic winners is astonishing. While both grew up at Three Bridges, they were both broken in by neighbour Bruce O’Dell and both sent to the Darren Weir stables.
“It’s a good local story for the area as (trainer) Weiry bought his nearby Baringhup farm from us and the breaker Bruce O’Dell is just over the road,” Liston explained.
Just to confirm their parallel equine careers, the two horses raced against each other earlier this year in a Terang maiden.
In that race, Leicester prevailed with Sopressa runner-up. Saturday’s Caulfield winner Exceltara was third stamping the extraordinary quality coming out of a seemingly innocuous western Victoria country maiden.
“The winning post is our greatest advertisement, as that is how you are judged by the industry,” Liston said.
“You need to keep getting winners and now we have now raised the SA Oaks and SA Derby winners…it’s been a huge couple of weeks!” Liston exclaimed.
Sopressa is a daughter of So You Think and is one of five winners for the multiple Group 2 winning Weasel Clause mare Hidden Strings. She was purchased by breeders Webb and Dean in foal to So You Think at the 2014 Inglis Sydney Weanling and Bloodstock Sale for $70,000. They recently sold a Warhorse yearling colt out of the mare for $65,000 at the Inglis VOBIS Gold Sale.
Leicester is the first foal of Galileo mare Defy the Odds (GB), a placed half-sister by Galileo to Group 3 winner Index Linked. The highly progressive gelding claimed the Group 3 SAJC Chairman’s Stakes before his Derby win. His overall record now reads four wins and two placings from nine starts earning $535,000 in prize money. He is the third stakes-winner for former Sun Stud sire Wanted who now stands in Queensland.