Westerberg buys share in Epsom Derby and Oaks favourites

January 18, 2021

Westerberg, owned by Georg von Opel, has bought a share in both the Epsom Derby and Epsom Oaks favourites.

Von Opel, a German-born Swiss citizen, is great grandson of the founder of the car manufacturer Opel. The Westerberg founder is believed to have a net worth $2.2 billion.

The unbeaten High Definition and the well-bred Santa Barbara are towards the top of the ante-post betting market for the Epsom Derby and Epsom Oaks respectively in England next June.

High Definition is a son of the Coolmore stallion Galileo out of the Listed-winning Fastnet Rock mare Palace. He won his maiden at The Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland, on his debut before winning the Group 2 Beresford Stakes (a race for two-year-olds over a mile) at the same venue, emulating the achievement of his brother Isle of Innisfree in taking the contest in 2019. 

The colt High Definition was previously in the ownership of the Coolmore partners, Mrs John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, along with Anne Marie O’Brien, wife of Ireland’s champion flat trainer Aidan. According to Horse Racing Ireland, O’Brien is no longer a part-owner of the now three-year-old, with Magnier and Tabor both owning 31% each, Smith 25% and Westerberg 12.5%.

The filly Santa Barbara is the second significant Coolmore-owned Classics contender that von Opel had bought into. The daughter of 2012 Investec Epsom Derby winner Camelot is a half-sister to the Breeders’ Cup winning siblings Iridessa and Order of Australia. 

The former was trained by Joseph O’Brien and won the 2019 Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf over 1m 2 furlongs, while Order Of Australia won the FanDuels Breeders’ Cup Mile on the turf at Keeneland in November 2020 for Aidan O’Brien.

Santa Barbara, successful on her only outing in the Irish EBF Median Sires Series Maiden over a mile at The Curragh on 26 September 2020, was previously owned by Anne Marie O’Brien along with the Coolmore partners. Her 25% share has now been purchase by Westerberg, with each of the owners now holding a 25% stake each in the filly.

Both High Definition and Santa Barbara were bred by Whisperview Trading, which is owned by Aidan and Anne Marie O’Brien. The two horses will continue to be trained by O’Brien during their three-year-old season.

The link between von Opel and Coolmore has been developing over the past two years as was witnessed at the last in 2019 and 2020.

Espania, co-bought by Westerberg and Coolmore, will carry con Opel’s colours this season in Ireland. The €3 million purchase is a full sister to Group 1 winners Together Forever and Forever Together.

In 2019, Von Opel, through his racing and bloodstock adviser Jamie McCalmont, joined forces with the Coolmore partners to procure the 2,100,000 guineas sister to Lancaster House, now called Drummer Girl. She is by perennial champion sire Galileo out of Quiet Oasis and was bred by David and Diane Nagle of Barronstown Stud in County Wicklow, Ireland.

Westerberg also signed for the Lynch Bages and Longfield Stud-bred Galileo full sister to Alice Springs, costing €2.2 million ($2,397,843), at Goffs Orby Yearling Sale. Bred by Lynch Bages and Longfield Stud, 

In 2020, Westerberg partnered with Coolmore at Book 1 of Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, paying 3,400,000 guineas for a sister to 2019 Juddmonte International victor Japan and 2020 Group 1 Hong Kong Vase winner Mogul and the 2,800,000 guineas daughter of Prize Exhibit. 

Westerberg’s most notable success on the racetrack to date was the victory of Miss Yoda in the Group 1 German Oaks. The daughter of Investec Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sea The Stars cost €280,000 at the 2018 BBAG Yearling Sale. The former John Gosden-trained filly is being bred to Coolmore’s 2020 stallion purchase Wootton Bassett. 

Jamie McCalmont, Georg Van Opel’s racing and bloodstock adviser, said of Westerberg’s recent investments:

“The opportunity came up to buy into these two horses (High Definition and Santa Barbara) and Georg von Opel was very happy to do that. Mr van Opel is a partner in quite a few horses at Ballydoyle now. He is very keen to have the best bloodlines; that’s very much the policy. (His involvement with Coolmore) is growing all the time. It’s very much in its infancy, so it’s still expanding.”

Contributing Authors

Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Breandán Ó hUallacháin lives in Ireland and writes specifically about Irish, British and French horseracing, both National Hunt and Flat. He has an interest in...

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