August 2023



VANDEEK (GB) held strong against eight contenders at Deauville Racecourse on Sunday afternoon when challenging closest rival RAMATUELLE to land the Group 1 Prix Morny under Andrea Atzeni for owner KHK Racing and trainers Simon and Ed Crisford, their first Group 1 success no less.

This is Vandeek’s third victory in a row after his Group 2 Markel Richmond Stakes win on soft ground earlier in the month during a rain-soaked Qatar Goodwood Festival. The colt currently has entries in Group 1 contests in Newmarket this Autumn, namely the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes and Darley Dewhurst Stakes.

The unbeaten grey two-year-old by HAVANA GREY (GB) out of MOSA MINE (GB) was bred and reared by Kelly Thomas of Maywood Stud who landed her first Group 1 win for their Welsh farm in Carmarthenshire.

Maywood Stud originally sold the colt at the Tattersalls Foal sale for 52,000 guineas and it changed hands as a yearling, selling for 42,000 guineas at the December Yearling Sale 12 months later. Earlier this year, the colt was sold again at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up Sale, fetching 625,000 guineas from Stroud Coleman Bloodstock and jointly topping the sale.

Vandeek’s win for owner KHK Racing, the racing entity of HH Shaikh Khalid Al-Khalifa, makes it their second Group 1 after winning a British Classic in the St Leger in 2022, with ELDAR ELDAROV (GB). The Bahraini owner is relatively new to ownership in Britain and is enjoying the rewards of his bullish investment at bloodstock sales, mainly with agents Oliver St Lawrence and Anthony Stroud.

Great British Racing International spoke with Ed Harper, Stud Director at Whitsbury Manor Stud where Havana Grey stands, after the race:

“Vandeek’s win in the Prix Morny was just fantastic. He obviously looks like a seriously good two-year-old to stay unbeaten. It looked like a particularly good Prix Morny with the best of Ireland, France and England all going there. The best Havana Grey offspring so far with a lot of scope – he’s a taller, rangier Havana Grey. It will be exciting to see what he’ll do as a three-year-old.”

On her way home to Britain following the landmark win in Deauville, breeder Kelly Thomas of Maywood Stud spoke with Great British Racing International about her experience along the way:

“We went to Havana Grey as we had to be commercial being a small stud and we need to produce horses that are attractive in the sales ring. It was a Covid year so we limited ourselves to using only UK stallions which we were more than happy to do because we want to support them. I spoke with Ed [Harper] about it as we were using SHOWCASING (GB) that year and he was really enthusiastic about Havana Grey. They had every faith in him and were using him plenty on quality mares so that combined with pedigree made it a no brainer.”

Discussing the challenges for small thoroughbred breeders, Thomas added:

“The plight of the small breeder is never easy. Having started 20 years ago and only managing to breed fillies. We have to produce things for the sales ring to make money to reinvest all the time. When that doesn’t go right you can find yourself having to beg, borrow and steal from your family members to try to keep things going. It’s not always easy to do, but I’ve been determined to keep going. I feel it was my calling. I can’t believe we’ve actually done it. To all the small breeders out there, don’t give up, keep going! You get repaid in the end. We are absolutely thrilled.”

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