Rosemont Stud is confident Victorian bred and born stallion Starspangledbanner will return from Ireland for another season in 2023 after being given a year off from shuttling back to Australia.
The stallion was exported back to Ireland last December to stand another season at Coolmore where his service fee this year has risen to 35,000 euros (AUD$53,000).
Starspangledbanner stood for $16,500 at Rosemont last season where he served 70 mares. He covered his biggest book of Australian mares – 116 – in his first season at Rosemont in 2011 at a fee of $44,000.
Rosemont Stud’s general manager of bloodstock Ryan McEvoy said the son of Choisir had been shuttling backwards and forwards for several years and was having a super year in Europe where his service fee had skyrocketed.
“He has had a big couple of seasons up there and this season is probably his biggest to date there,” McEvoy said.
“Coolmore who effectively manages the horse and own the majority of him just felt he needed that breather for the season so that was probably fair enough.
“He is one of those, I suppose, reverse shuttle stallions that has been an effective stallion in both hemispheres.
“He is one of those rare and unique horses that was a champion sprinter in Australia and has been a super successful stallion in the northern hemisphere.”
McEvoy said Starspangledbanner, bred by Tony Santic of Makybe Diva fame out of his mare Gold Anthem (Made Of Gold x National Song), had a tough start to his stud career with some early fertility challenges which resulted in just 31 live foals from his season at stud.
He said it had been perhaps a challenge for breeders to now understand that had overcome those fertility issues and since gone beyond them.
“He has overcome those challenges and is quite an effective stallion in the barn and is exhibiting a high level of fertility now which is great,” McEvoy said.
“Unfortunately those challenges have sort of stayed with him and those breeders probably still need some work to educate them that the horse has turned the corner and as I said is an effective stallion from a fertility point of view.”
The now 15-year-old stallion served 72 mares in 2020 at a fertility rate of 73.4 per cent.
McEvoy said there were some management techniques with Starspangledbanner which had to be implemented to produce the best results.
“Those techniques have seemingly worked with him and he is not a horse that probably wants to get hammered and he is one stallion whose fertility is at its best when his covers are spaced and he is not faced with three, four or five mares a day,” he said.
“There are just little quirks. He is a stallion that likes to be sort of outside and doesn’t like to be cooped up in his box with his rug on. All those little sorts of things that you pick up on that you tend to correlate and form a pattern of what is working for him and what’s not.”
While it would have been satisfying to get a bigger book in the 100 range last season, McEvoy said the stallion still served some nice mares and it was pleasing to see his weanlings sell well.
The Irish bred State Of Rest has been a champion for Starspangledbanner, winning last year’s Group 1 Cox Plate for the Kilkenny-based Joseph O’Brien who had more Group 1 success when the four-year-old gelding won the GB Prince of Wales’s Stakes during the recent Royal Ascot carnival.
The famed English carnival was where Starspangledbanner gained his international reputation by winning the Group Ascot Golden Jubilee Stakes in 2010. A couple of weeks later he won the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket for Aiden O’Brien, the father of Joseph O’Brien.
Starspangledbanner was an exceptional galloper for Flemington trainer Leon Corstens who trained the gelding to victory in two Group 1 races – the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) – before the gelding was sold as a stallion to campaign for O’Brien.
And while the horse’s two Group 1 victories in England were both at 1207m, Corstens said that after training Starspangledbanner to the ultimate level at 1600m, he believes the horse could have won a Cox Plate if the race had been targeted.
It’s a thought that isn’t lost on McEvoy.
“Well he won the Guineas so dominantly,” he said.
“And of course So You Think finished behind him in that Guineas and he did go on and win a Cox Plate.
“It’s interesting because he is the sort of horse that would have skipped around Moonee Valley probably on speed. We saw a horse like Shamus Award do that as a three-year-old after coming out of the Guineas (he finished third).
“Three-year-olds that perform that well in the Caulfield Guineas tend to really show up in the Cox Plate. Also to spring to mind are Pierro and All Too Hard.
“I’ve got no doubt that he would have given them a sight.”
While Starspangledbanner has worked well with European mares, his statistics in Australia are strong and come off the back of not having big numbers like other stallions.
And McEvoy said not having big books of mares probably put him on the back foot, but the stallion still had what he says are some real proper horses in Australia at all distances.
He points to the Rosemont Stud bred and raced Brooklyn Hustle (Joint Aspiration) who is a Group 2 and 3 winner headed to the breeding barn this season after finishing 12th in last Saturday’s Group 1 Tatts Tiara (1400m) at Eagle Farm.
It was the 15th Group 1 contested by the five-year-old mare that fell just $160,000 short of $1m in prizemoney.
And Prime Star is a winner of the Inglis Millennium (1100m) which carried a first prize of $1.93m.
Godolphin’s Home Of The Brave won Group and Listed races in Europe before transferring to the stable’s Australian operations where he won two Group races.
“He can clearly get a high-class horse,” McEvoy said.
“The pleasing thing is that he is cementing himself as a proper stallion in the Hong Kong jurisdiction as well. That California Spangle looks like a real star and was second in the Derby and I think he is going to train on and be one of the real elite horses in Hong Kong for the next 12 months.”
And there’s plenty of interest in unraced two-year-old filly Starspangledancer (Karalli) who recently won an 800m Hawkesbury trial by 12 lengths for local trainer Blake Ryan.
The Rosemont bred filly was sold through the stud’s exclusive online sale for $5000 as a weanling and was then passed in on a $20,000 reserve at the 2020 Adelaide Yearling Sale before being sold.
McEvoy said Starspangledbanner had the unique ability to produce a star horse and he hopes to have the stallion back at Rosemont.
“We’ll get through this season and I suppose it’s about determining where he would fit commercially and how well his stock are selling and probably we are afforded the time to have a look at his stock and how they perform,” he said.
“But certainly from our point of view, we’d love to have him back. He is still a relatively young stallion that hasn’t been overworked and we feel like is coming into his prime.
“He is a horse that certainly has a special place in our heart and means a lot and we’d love to think he’d come back.”
McEvoy said they were looking forward to another big breeding season with their stallions headed by Shamus Award (Snitzel x Sunset Express)
“The rise and rise of Shamus, it was we call it,” he said.
“It’s been phenomenal the past 18 months and if you look at that time in isolation he has had five Group 1 winners. Four new Group 1 winners headlined by Incentivise, the highest rated horse in Australia.
“Duais is a super star filly that won the Queensland Oaks and was dominate with her two Group 1 wins this autumn and then it was backed up by the likes of El Patroness who was a dominate winner of the (Australian) Oaks.
“When they win Group 1s they seem to do it in pretty eye-catching fashion.”
McEvoy said Shamus Award was something of a freak as a stallion and one they believe can climb to the top of the Australian stallion ranks where he currently sits at number five and is the youngest at age 11.
Hanseatic (Street Boss x Itameri) was retired to stud last season when he served 195 mares and will cover another full book of mares this season at Rosemont.
The recently retired three-year-old Extreme Warrior (Extreme Choice x Heart Of Thrills) was retired after the Group 1 Goodwood Handicap in May.
“He is probably by the most commercial stallion in the country,” he said.
“What I like about him was that he exhibited Group 1 ability and horses like I Am Invincible, Written Tycoon and Not A Single Doubt displayed that too. You don’t necessarily have to retire with a Group 1 on your CV provided you exhibited that ability and he certainly did that.
“He was a Group 3 and listed winner and had great ratings from the experts. He is a good-looking horse with a great pedigree.”
McEvoy said another of Rosemont’s stallions, Strasbourg (I Am Invincible x Danish Spy), was a handsome horse and that’s why he sold for $750,000 as an Australian Easter Yearling.
He said they were buoyed to see other sons of I Am Invincible at stud, Hellbent and Overshare, in the top ten first-season stallion ranks.
Strasbourg served 109 mares in each of his first two seasons at stud.
McEvoy said it was exciting to see a gun stallion being supported by three up-and-comers.