Home-Maid Classic Chance For Brightwalton

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The Hobby family with Maid Up after the March S. | Racing Post 

By Tom Peacock

Jeffrey Hobby was placed in a similar position to many other owners when weighing up whether to add Maid Up (GB) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) to tomorrow’s G1 William Hill St Leger S.

A £50,000 supplementary fee is not exactly loose change, with a decision having to be made as to whether the Andrew Balding-trained filly might be capable of earning it back at Doncaster. There was also money in the pot courtesy of her exploits this season, which include the G3 March S. at Goodwood among four wins and a lucrative second in the G2 Lillie Langtry S. The clincher for Hobby, though, are the future benefits it might have for her page when she finally returns to his Brightwalton Stud in Berkshire.

“It’s what owner-breeders want to do isn’t it?” he says. “Andrew recommended it. The jockey [Rob Hornby] is very keen. She’s a filly that just does enough every time and has hardly ever won by more than half a length, other than against the two colts in the March S., whether off a mark of 69 or in a Group 3. Because she just does the job and that’s all, it’s hard to judge quite how good she is. A filly like Lah Ti Dar (GB) can go and give 10 lengths to the next horse, you can see what they’ve got. I don’t know how good mine is, I don’t know if she’s good enough. She’d have been second favourite for the G2 Park Hill S. but you only get one chance to run in the Leger, don’t you? We can go back to the Park Hill next year. We discussed it all, I thought she’d earned the money, so we thought we’d give it a go.”

Maid Up is the standout performer from the foals of Complexion (GB) (Hurricane Run {Ire}), the Juddmonte-bred broodmare that Hobby bought for 125,000gns at Tattersalls six years ago. His idea to visit Mastercraftsman is one he wishes had come to him earlier.

“It was the first time I’d used him. I think he’s a lovely horse and we’re always trying to pick good sires who are affordable. Quite why I didn’t use a Danehill sire before–when the mare’s good half-brother is Zacinto (GB), who is by Dansili (GB)–I don’t know, I should have gone to Dansili before. I bought her in foal to Dream Ahead and finally got myself organised and used a Danehill-line sire, and got [Maid Up],” he says.

“I was reading about Alpha Centauri (Ire) the other day, another Mastercraftsman filly. What they were saying about her would be describing my filly exactly: they just switch off, idle around and are as cool as a cucumber in the pre-amble and during the race, and when you ask them they pick it up and give you their heart. That’s obviously a Mastercraftsman trait.”

Hobby was born into the bloodstock world and grew up at nearby Hillwood Stud. After a spell doing a “sensible job” in property, he returned to the fold and founded Brightwalton with wife Phoebe about a decade ago. It is essentially a private enterprise with between 15 and 20 mares.

“We started with a bit of a rag-bag bunch of mares to see how the land worked and get a grip on it,” he said. “Complexion is one of the first proper mares I bought. I remember my wife saying I’d spent too much when I bought her but it turned out to be a good gamble because I sold the first foal she was carrying at the time for about twice what I paid for her. We’re trying to buy quality mares and you do have to pay for them.”

He adds, “It was just a blank bit of ground, it had had sheep on it for 15 years. We had to build it all from scratch; houses, posts, railings, hedges. It took a while to get it to where we wanted it to be. We’re always ambitious but it’s a very nice farm now.”

Hobby sold Maid Up’s Kodiac (GB) half-brother for £55,000 at the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale and the mare is in foal to Showcasing (GB) again after losing her last foal by the same sire. Unlike the last few years, Brightwalton is not listed as consigning at the Tattersalls October sale, but it will be selling five through Barton Stud as there have been a few recent staff changes.

“There’s a nice Lope De Vega (Ire) filly (lot 181) in Book 1 out of Vesnina (GB)(Sea The Stars {Ire}), which is from the very good Cheveley Park Russian Rhythm family. She’s the only filly from the family they don’t own. It was quite a lucky buy before the family took off with the likes of Zonderland (GB) and Marenko (GB). She’s the first foal out of the mare. We’ve got a very nice Tamayuz (GB) first foal filly in Book 2 (lot 747) and an Australia (GB) colt out of a half-sister to Vazirabad (Fr) (lot 828) in Book 2.”

For now, all eyes are trained on Maid Up as she bids to follow in the footsteps of others to carry the Hobby family’s two-tone blue silks, which included future jumps stallion Torus (GB) (Ribero {GB}) and Argon Laser (GB) (Kris {GB}), the dam of stallion Dr Massini (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells).

Hobby says, “It’s probably a bit bonkers, but you don’t know unless you try,” he said. “Our form is hard to judge and if we get a Group 1 Classic place with a filly we’ll be very happy.”

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