When representatives of Magic Millions turned up at Rosemont earlier this week for yearling inspections ahead of the 2019 yearling sales series, the first question they asked on arriving was “how many Starcrafts are you showing us?”

Of course, the determination by sales companies to get quality Starcraft stock into their sales is not a surprise.

His yearlings at this year’s sales averaged over $115,000, headed by a colt from the Bowness Stud draft that made a whopping $340,000 at the Sydney Classic sale.

Off an advertised service fee of $9,900 in 2015, that $115,000 average represented a remarkable return on investment for breeders. It placed him sixth on the list of Sires By Return on Service Fee for 2018 according to BloodstockData’s 2018 Annual Review of Australian Yearling Sales.

StallionAverage2015 FeeMultiplier*
1I Am Invincible $438,351$55,000 5.84
2Spirit of Boom$150,285$11,0004.85
3Written Tycoon$182,018$19,8004.57
4Not A Single Doubt$232,086$33,000 4.38
5Snitzel $470,747$88,0004.36
6Starcraft $116,800$9,9003.91

*Return on service fee + costs.

Interestingly, while the fees for the top five stallions have all at least doubled, the cost of Starcraft – already the cheapest stallion on the list – has actually fallen, with his 2018 fee currently set at $8,800.

But the story gets better for breeders. In 2018, Rosemont is repeating its innovative 2017 “Toss The Boss” deal, under which breeders get to choose the sex of their foal. If the breeder doesn’t get what they picked, then the breeder doesn’t have to pay the service fee.

With foaling having started for the season last month, Rosemont is receiving steady streams of phone calls from happy breeders advising of their latest Starcraft foal – for free.

Eliza Grantham from South Australia’s Springfield Farm was one such breeder.

“We heard about the ‘Toss the Boss’ promotion last season and being fans of Starcraft anyway, we sent two mares. One has foaled already and happily for us it was a colt which meant we didn’t have to pay,” said Grantham.

“He is a ripper of a colt, very active and looks like he will be a real runner. We are thinking of racing him but since he’s a colt, he’s a good sales prospect too given the demand for him from Hong Kong.

“I guess we’ll just wait and see how he grows out. I still can’t believe we have bred him for free.”

The point about Hong Kong is one not lost on astute breeders. From limited runners, Starcraft finished last season in the Top 10 on the Hong Kong sires list last year for the second successive year.

Like the sales companies, the deep bench of agents trading horses to Hong Kong are also now well aware of the standing that Starcraft has in that jurisdiction.

On the flip-side, breeders who got what they wanted from Starcraft and thus have to pay the service fee don’t seem to be too upset. Victorian breeder Karen Sinclair took a punt on a filly and her mare foaled a colt, for which she will now pay the $8,800 fee.

“I couldn’t be happier. I would much rather pay a low fee for a colt that looks as good as this one that will be in demand wherever he goes.

“I can sell him as a weanling, keep him through to yearling or even breeze him up. Demand for his colts is obviously strong, underpinned by Hong Kong, and the fee is low compared to what he might make. So I reckon this is even better than a free filly!”

For information about Starcraft or to book a mare, call Ted at Rosemont Stud on 0429 933 955.

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