Reproduced from the 2017 Inside Breeding magazine
Rosemont Stud’s stallion Starcraft is surfing a wave of success, particularly in Hong Kong, so the stud is keeping the momentum going with a unique deal for broodmare owners. DANNY POWER reports.
When Anthony Mithen hosted the yearling-buying team from the Hong Kong Jockey Club to Rosemont Stud at Ceres, near Geelong, for dinner during the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sales in early March, most of racing’s (and the world’s) problems were “solved” by a group known for not being short of an opinion.
Hong Kong reps Nick Columb and Mark Richards more than held their own as good food and fine wine fueled many heady debates.
However, it was with lips tinted by the remnants of a good Bellarine Peninsula Pinot Noir that the dinner guests focused their discussion on Rosemont’s stallion Starcraft.
On this there was unanimous agreement. Rosemont’s Anthony Mithen and brother-in-law Nigel Austen are naturally enthusiastic about Starcraft, but the big chestnut also is a stallion whose progeny Hong Kong buyers love.
Starcraft has three of the most promising gallopers in Hong Kong, including his headliner Blizzard (ch g 2011, ex Stormy Choice, by Redoute’s Choice), winner of the Group 3 Challenge Cup this year and twice Group 1 placed, the exciting Jing Jing Win (b g 2012, ex Top Cuban), winner of two of his four starts and Winner’s Way (ch g 2012, ex Sunday Service, by Sunday Silence), fourth in the Listed Hong Kong Classic Mile.
It was Columb and Richards who paid $360,000 for Jing Jing Win as a yearling at the 2014 Sydney Easter Yearling Sales, and then watched him top the Hong Kong Jockey Club horses-in-training sale in March 2016 with a hefty increase to $HK8.5 million ($A1.45 million).
It was a lot of money to spend on a Starcraft, a stallion who was losing some favour in Australia from his Arrowfield Stud base in the Hunter Valley before he moved to Rosemont Stud in 2014. Rosemont has since bought the stallion.
Spicing up the Starcraft conversation like a dash of chilli was the form his classy Melbourne juvenile, Property, who, after winning a Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m, Caulfield) and Listed Blue Diamond Preview (1000m, Caulfield), went to Sydney where he won the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes (1100m, at Randwick) in dashing style.
Despite this surge of interest in Starcraft with breeders, Mithen and Austen have come up with a novel way of attracting more mares to the stallion—by a simple toss of the coin, you could get into the stallion for free rather than pay his 2017 fee of $8800 (inc. GST).
“It’s simple. If you want to breed a colt, you nominate that preference, and if you get what you want, you pay the fee,” Mithen said. “However, if you get a filly, you pay nothing, and vice versa.
“This is very attractive for breeders who want to breed a colt to sell into the Hong Kong market while Starcraft is hot, while at the same time it should be no great disadvantage to get a filly, because there is no service fee and Starcraft also is a very good sire of fillies.”
While a lot of the attention on Starcraft in recent times has been his sons, however, six of the best of his 18 Stakes winners are fillies—We Can Say It Now (dual Group 1 winner), Ain’tnofallenstar (two Listed), Celebrity Girl (two Listed), Crafty Irna (Group 3), Starcheeka (Group 3) and Hallowell Belle (Group 2).
Rosemont is something of a “museum” for broodmare owners. Two of its three stallions represent sire lines that are rare.
Starcraft represents Australia’s closest link with the Nureyev sire line. Nureyev has been an incredibly influential stallion and Starcraft is by one of Nureyev’s best sons, Soviet Star.
Barnmate Toorak Toff is from the nearly defunct Star Kingdom line that 40 years ago swamped Australia. Only Rosemont’s Toorak Toff and his Queensland-based sire Show A Heart (Glenlogan Park) represent the Star Kingdom line at commercial breeding farms in Australia.
Of course, Nureyev (by Northern Dancer) and Star Kingdom (by Stardust) remain very relevant in the bloodlines of many of Australia’s best broodmares.
Interestingly, Starcraft seems to be starting a little stallion dynasty of his own. His fastest and best son Star Witness, who stands at Widden Stud, is the leading third-crop stallion in Australia with four Stakes winners of eight Stakes races.
Star Witness, out of the star Lion Hunter mare Leone Chiara, was a brilliant near-last-to-first winner of the 2010 Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield and backed up as a 3YO in the spring to win the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m, Flemington). At stud, he has continued to climb the tree to be in the top-20 stallions (national figures) in the country with only three crops of racing age.
His best son, Star Turn, an extremely fast, dual Group-winner and multiple Group 1- placed chestnut in the mould of Star Witness, will stand his first season at Vinery Stud, Scone, at a fee of $22,000 and he’ll cover a full book.
Star Turn is an intriguing combination of a Nureyev sire line over a Star Kingdom mare, Golden Delicious, and, like Starcraft, is the perfect mate for a Danehill-line mare.
It’s no coincidence that both Star Witness and Starcraft’s brilliant gelded son Blizzard are from Danehill-line mares—the Starcraft-Danehill cross, including Danehill’s sons, has produced 88 winners—while Property and Jing Jing Win are from a mare by Anabaa, who is by Danehill’s sire Danzig.
Rosemont Stud continues for forge a path to the top of the hill in Australian breeding. Recently at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale, Mithen and Austen paid $3.7 million for 27 mares, some of which will go to Starcraft.
The farm has employed former champion trainer Peter Moody as an adviser and his public assessment of the Rosemont yearling sale drafts at the Melbourne Premier Sale and Sydney’s Easter was an outstanding insight.
Also standing alongside Starcraft and Toorak Toff is the impressive Medaglia d’Oro stallion Nostradamus, a half-brother to Star Witness, who will cover his second book of mares after serving a 110 mares last season.
The stud got a boost of confidence from the sale of the first mare in foal to Nostradamus—Troposphere, by Stratum—who sold at the Inglis Broodmare Sale at Easter for $90,000 to Cornerstone Stud in South Australia.