Above: Shamus award standing at Rosemont Stud
TDN AusNZ continues its series in which we quiz Australasian stud identities about their operations, backgrounds and thoughts on the wider thoroughbred industry. Today, we chat with Rosemont Stud’s Anthony Mithen.
Rosemont’s stallion roster was boosted by the arrival last year of Shamus Award, who will stand at $19,800 inc GST in 2020 and Starspangledbanner at the same fee. Newcomer Strasbourg will stand at an introductory fee of $11,000 inc GST, Starcraft (NZ) will be offered at $8800 inc GST and Nostradamus at $5500 inc GST.
TDN AusNZ: Service fees have been announced, how are you finding the response to your roster given the current economic uncertainty?
Anthony Mithen: We haven’t really had to alter things too much. Shamus Award deserved a little tickle upwards given the job he’s doing. He’s the best-performed Victorian stallion on stakes winners to runners and I think anything under $20,000 is great value.
He’s found his mark and proving to still be very popular. The other stallions are at competitive prices given where the market is at and I think everyone has taken it on board to give mare owners opportunities to make a quid without over-extending.
TDN AusNZ: Physical type, race performance and pedigree are all important criteria when selecting stallions, but if there were one you’d prioritise over the others, what would it be and why?
AM: In an ideal world they would have all three and it’s almost like ‘would you stand a horse without them?’ and probably I wouldn’t. A case in point for us is Strasbourg and putting a question like this into practice. It was the physical type that really got me over the line with him, he’s such a beautiful horse and if he’s a black cat having black kittens then everyone is going to make a lot of money out of him.
He’s a magnificent specimen and that got me – he’s a $750,000 son of I Am Invincible and then throw in a race record that includes a Group 2 win and his pedigree is okay without being splashed with Group 1 winners all over the page, it’s acceptable.
He’s got five stars on physical and that probably answers the question in terms of what’s most important to me, but you do have to have a blend to make a successful stallion.
TDN AusNZ: Looking ahead to the next few years, are there any changes to your business model you’re planning and what is your process for reviewing how your business is placed?
AM: We would like to position ourselves in the market as being the Victorian leader with stallions and we’re going to take steps to make that happen and look for partners to support us in that. That’s something we’re excited to push on within the next 12 months.
With the appointment of Ryan McEvoy there’s no better time to do that, given his area of expertise with stallions and managing stallions like Sebring and Zoustar through Widden Stud. We’re dedicated to excellence across the board and we’ve assembled a great team of both humans and horses. We’re well positioned to make an impact.
“We’re dedicated to excellence across the board and we’ve assembled a great team of both humans and horses. We’re well positioned to make an impact. ” – Anthony Mithen
TDN AusNZ: What is the biggest challenge facing your business at the moment?
AM: I’m sure everyone is answering with economic factors at the moment. I do think that we need to be very careful about where we are positioned in a community sense and we don’t lose sight of the fact that it is very much a community sport, and a community employer.
We really need to make sure the general public who don’t really care much for racing, don’t have an opinion or are ambivalent and are made aware of that. I don’t know that the industry has done a good job of that in the past. It was once a part of the fabric of being Australian and I think that we’ve lost that a bit and become a bit insular.
I get that there has been a lot of work done in the animal welfare area to make sure we are beyond reproach in that regard, but I think we can go a step further and put racing back into the general Australian psyche. It’s a big employer and lots of people can benefit from it and get a lot of enjoyment out of it, including the animals that are so well cared for.
TDN AusNZ: You’ve worked for some interesting people throughout your career, can you tell me who had the largest influence on you and the lesson you will not forget?
AM: I’m not a person born into the industry and had no family connection to it. My crossover from media into the bloodstock business was one that was poles apart, but I drew from my now business partner and he wasn’t one when I made that decision.
My brother-in-law Nigel Austin runs one of the most successful clothing retail businesses in the world [Cotton On] and I’m lucky enough to also call him a great mate and I’ve been lucky he’s guided me to make some good business calls. Even though breeding isn’t necessarily his number one focus, he’s certainly got business acumen above anyone I know.
TDN AusNZ: Who currently in the industry do you look toward for inspiration, and why?
AM: I’ve always found the Mitchell brothers, Harry and Arthur, to be welcoming and helpful with their time and advice and they’ve got a model that I aspire to. They’ve got nice stallions and farm and doing it all with a smile on their faces, and a moral compass that points the right way. Hopefully, one day I can end up with an I Am Invincible in the backyard, that would be nice.
TDN AusNZ: Who did you learn the most from, regarding horse conformation? And why do you think they were a good judge?
AM: I’ve been someone that has taken little bits from everyone along the way. I think back to what I looked for 17 years ago when I left TV and thought it might be an ideal to become a horse breeder and run a farm. I shudder in horror at my thoughts at the time about what made a nice horse as opposed to a decade and a-half or more down the track.
There hasn’t been any one person that I have sidled alongside and afford myself the opportunity to be mentored, I was the peak of the pyramid when we had four people working for us when we started up. I had to do it all, and in reality, and history will tell you, I didn’t know much and had to learn quickly.
One good influence was Dean Harvey, who now runs Baystone Farm and worked for me for three or four years. He was a confidant and a mate and he always had a nice eye for a horse. He was one I could ask dumb questions and wouldn’t be cast aside and made to wear the dunce hat so he deserves a rap for that.
TDN AusNZ: What physical element really hooks you into a horse, and what trait can you not forgive?
AM: I’ve been to the races enough and looked at horses in the mounting yard to see most things and you shake your head and think how is this even at the races, given the world that we live in when they’ve got to be straight and perfect everywhere.
You can go into the mounting yard at Flemington during the carnival and you see them in all shapes and sizes, so I wouldn’t condemn a horse for anything if they have enough going for them in other areas. That may be naive because I’ve never trained one, I’m sure there are trainers that can answer the question better than me!
TDN AusNZ: Who is the best stallion physical you have ever seen?
AM: Right now it would be Strasbourg because he’s an A1 knockout. That’s a little biased and I’ve always admired Lonhro as a physical. He’s such a beautiful horse and I saw him as a pre-Christmas 2-year-old up at Belmont Park at Woodlands and had a friendship with the Hawkes family and Wayne in particular. I went up there during a Hunter Valley tour and I still remember looking in the box at this black horse and they said look out for him. I followed him and backed him in his first start and goes down as one of my all-time favourites.
TDN AusNZ: What stallion on another farm’s roster would you like to be standing?
AM: I’m lucky enough to have a breeding right in I Am Invincible and that’s as close as I can get to a champion stallion that’s up in the clouds like him. While we obviously don’t stand him, it’s nice to be part of that team.
I feel the horse on the move is Capitalist with lots of numbers and he gets them in all shapes and sizes, a bit like Written Tycoon.
TDN AusNZ: Which four people, within the industry or outside it, dead or alive, would you invite to a dinner party?
AM: I went with the current day and hoping and dreaming it could come off at some stage. I would want it to be entertaining rather than informative and that’s my social side coming out and maybe the fact we’ve been locked down with this COVID-19.
Angus Gold, he’s a very learned horseman and screamingly entertaining person. He’s very good on the microphone and he could kick start the karaoke.
In similar vein, a very knowledgeable guy who I’ve had a lot to do with and a lot of dinners in the last four or five years and I wouldn’t hear the end of it if he didn’t get invited, and that’s Peter Moody. He could come along and his quick wit would certainly add to the table.
Another guy who is a loveable larrikin and has been absolutely spectacular for the industry and just as entertaining is Gerry Harvey. Gerry gets the third seat and the fourth seat, and I’m going out on a limb because I don’t know him but I would imagine that he would be quite scintillating in this company, would be Frankie Dettori.
TDN AusNZ: Which global breeding brand do you have the ultimate respect for?
AM: I have the utmost respect for the two international giants of Coolmore and Godolphin. Twenty or 30 years ago they pitched a flag in Australia and what they have been able to do, enhance Australia by opening up very big and successful operations here, has been fantastic.
Coolmore’s recent support of the Easter Sale and of the industry when times are tough can’t be under-estimated. Those two organisations, while their head offices are based elsewhere, have done an unbelievable job for Australian breeding and racing and continue to do so, we should be indebted to them.
Article Courtesy of Paul Vettise TDN