As a breeder, owner and devoted industry supporter, David Thompson has left an indelible mark on the bloodstock world, writes JAMES THOMAS in Racing Post.
His impact on the thoroughbred business traces back some 46 years to the day he and his wife Patricia purchased the historic Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket.
When the couple bought the farm it had dwindled to 270 acres and was home to a modest broodmare band and Forlorn River, a stallion of little consequence. Under Thompson’s ownership Cheveley Park Stud is now a giant of the breeding world, having been the birthplace of scores of Group 1 winners, home to some breed-shaping stallions and now standing at just under 1,000 acres.
In 1977, having only recently purchased the stud, Thompson went against industry advice and retired his Gimcrack Stakes winner Music Boy to the farm’s stallion roster.
Although the son of Jukebox sired just 17 foals in his initial crop, he defied the odds by becoming champion first-season sire. And so began a running theme of Thompson backing his own judgement and coming up trumps, a pattern that had already emerged with considerable success in his business interests.
Towards the end of 1990, Thompson purchased Polar Falcon in a move that would have a profound effect on the modern-day bloodstock landscape. The son of Nureyev retired to Cheveley Park Stud having won the Lockinge and Haydock Sprint Cup, and his very first foal was none other than Pivotal.
Sent into training with Sir Mark Prescott, Pivotal carried the Thompsons’ distinctive red, white and blue colours to victory in the King’s Stand Stakes and the Nunthorpe. Having once stood for as little as £5,000, Pivotal is now one of the most influential stallions of the modern era.
He has sired no less than 32 Group/Grade 1 winners around the world, has twice been crowned champion broodmare sire in Britain and Ireland and is also becoming an increasingly important sire of sires, with sons such as Siyouni and Farhh supplying top-level winners in their own right.
As Pivotal’s influence on the breed deepens, he will ensure that Thompson’s fingerprints will continue to be found on pedigrees the world over.
Pivotal was the first in a long line of homebred Group 1 winners, as he was followed by the likes of Medicean, Red Bloom, Chorist, Peeress, Nannina, Confidential Lady, Echelon, Hooray, Integral, Queen’s Trust and Veracious, to name but a few.
Despite having his own racing and breeding operation, there was also a commercial aspect to Thompson’s approach. Among the Group 1 winners Cheveley Park Stud purchased at public auction are Allegretto, Persuasive and the brilliant Russian Rhythm.
Thompson also enjoyed success as a seller, and in 1998 Cheveley Park Stud sold the joint top lots at the Tattersalls Houghton Sale. Entrepreneur and Happy Valentine fetched 600,000gns apiece, with the former going on to win the 2,000 Guineas.
Thompson’s support also extended into the National Hunt sphere, including his purchase of Party Politics just two days before the horse triumphed in the Grand National. Only recently Thompson made a rare appearance at the Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale in Newmarket, where he added the £430,000 Grangeclare West and the £310,000 Guily Billy to his string with Gordon Elliott.
There can be no doubt that Thompson’s entrepreneurial spirit, strength of conviction and unwavering passion for fast horses have been central in Cheveley Park Stud becoming the success it is today.
Although Thompson was a most private individual, his achievements will speak volumes for generations to come.
Heversham Park stands Wings Of Desire (GB), by Pivotal.