Best On Breeding

Mark Smith - Thursday January 27

Rosehill holds the primary interest on Saturday, with the Group III Widden Stakes for the fillies and the Group III Canonbury Stakes for colts and geldings, which features three $1million plus yearlings.

The $1,250,000 I Am Invincible colt Zambezi River, and the $1,000,000 Not A Single Doubt colt Flashing Steel demonstrated ability at their only starts.

However, the likely favourite is the unraced Chris Waller-trained Great Barrier Reef.

The son of I Am Invincible could not have been any more impressive in a 900m barrier trial at Canterbury last November.

He was not seen out again until a 902m trial at Rosehill on January 17, when he appeared to have plenty left to offer when sixth in a bunched finish behing the $1.2million Written Tycoon colt Pyrois.

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Sporting the purple, white seams, striped sleeves colours of  Derrick Smith, Great Barrier Reef was a $1,400,000 purchase by Tom Magnier from the Kia Ora Stud draft at the 2021 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

That made him the equal second most expensive of the nine $1million lots by I Am Invincible at the sale.

A half-brother to the talented L'Cosmo (Lonhro), Great Barrier Reef is the third foal of the top-class mare Classic Endeavour.

Great Barrier Reef a $1.4million Easter Yearling

Bred by Catherine Remond, Cosmic Endeavour was a $230,000 purchase for owners Don and Judy Kelly from the Willow Park Stud consignment at the 2012 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

The daughter of Northern Meteor won seven races and almost $1.5million for Gai Waterhouse, highlighted by triumphs in the Group 1 ATC Canterbury Stakes and Group 1 Tatt's QLD Tattersall's Tiara.

Cosmic Endeavour was the most accomplished Performer for the 3-time Listed Stakes winner Crevette, a sister to two-time Hong Kong Horse Of The Year Fairy King Prawn (Danehill) and Group 1 Salinger Stakes winner and Wattle Brae Stud stalwart, Easy Rocking (Barathea).

Crevette's dam Twiglet was honoured as the 2001 Australian Broodmare Of The Year and was also a top-class performer on the track.

The daughter of Twig Moss (FR) became the first Sydney stakes winner for Graham Begg when she defeated the champion Triscay, and Twiget's stablemate Whisked in the Listed Furious Stakes at Randwick.

Also, winner of the Group II VRC Edward Manifold Stakes and Listed AJC Reginald Allen Handicap, Twiglet was a daughter of the stakes-placed Extradite (Bletchingly), one of five broodmares bequeathed to Catherine Remond by her father, Stanley Wootton.

One of the others was Biscarina (Biscay), the dam of the champion sprinter Schillaci, an 8-time Group 1 winning son of Salieri (USA).

Cosmic Endeavour does not have a yearling this season, having missed to I Am Invincible in 2019.  

Cosmic Endeavour (image Mark Smith)

But she has a filly foal by Too Darn Hot (GB) and is back in foal to Godolphin's triple Group 1 winning son of Dubawi.

Two stallions have dominated the last five editions of the Canonbury Stakes, but neither have a runner this year. Exceed And Excel won with Zethus (2021), McLaren (2019), and Performer (2018). Redoute's Choice captured the race with Prague (2020) and Pariah (2017).

It looks a high-class renewal of the Widden Stakes. It will be exciting to see the return of Merson Cooper stakes winner Ebhaar (I Am Invincible) and the Merchant Navy filly Drisana, who covered herself in glory when a troubled second to the top-class Coolangatta in the Gimcrack Stakes last October.

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