Rosemont Stud have pulled off a major coup with the announcement that gun stallion Starspangledbanner will be returning to Victoria for the forth-coming 2019 breeding season. Majority owned by Coolmore, Starspangledbanner previously stood at Rosemont for the 2013, 2014 & 2015 breeding seasons before returning to Coolmore in 2016. He has regularly shuttled to the northern hemisphere and a deal has now been done again between Coolmore and Rosemont to see the stallion return to Victoria.

Rosemont Stud principal Anthony Mithen was thrilled with the development.

“Starspangledbanner is a horse that we have had tremendous success with and is a fantastic addition to the Victorian stallion ranks. We are rapt to have him back and grateful to Coolmore for keeping us involved. At stud his numbers continue to be extraordinary off relatively low foal numbers. He has a stakes winner to runners’ percentage of 8.5% and that is elite – in the realm of Australia’s very best stallions. I Am Invincible, Fastnet Rock and Exceed and Excel all bat at between 8.1 and 8.8% and on that measure, he is up there with them and miles ahead of a lot of unproven stallions standing for much higher fees.

“People also forget that the Banner was a brilliant racehorse, with the unique achievement of winning Champion Sprinter titles in both Australia and Europe in successive seasons. He was a dual Group 1 winner in both hemispheres – again, that is an achievement reserved for only the very best and again, it is a record that far out-strips some of the newer stallions going to stud for much higher service fees.”

After a brilliant racing career in Australia and Europe which netted four high profile Group 1 wins in the Caulfield Guineas, Oakleigh Plate, Golden Jubilee and July Cup, Starspangledbanner began his stud career with Coolmore in Ireland in 2011 before shuttling to Coolmore’s Hunter Valley Australia base for the 2011/2012 season. Despite large numbers in both hemispheres those two crops netted only 58 live foals and the stallion was labelled “sub-fertile” and returned to training. He was written off as a stallion until 51 of those first season foals hit the race track and – incredibly – nine of them became stakes winners.

By this stage the horse was back on stallion duties at Rosemont Stud and as Mithen explains, the Victorian farm was hard at work re-invigorating his stud career.

“We changed his environment, lightened his work load and focused heavily on keeping him happy. It helped turn him around and we increased his fertility to over 60% which was respectable. Thankfully his improvement continued after he returned to Coolmore and his most recent crop (2017) returned a fertility rate of 87%. That’s better than “normal”! We’ve learned that as long as he isn’t over-worked, there’s nothing wrong with his fertility. The best thing was that we supported him with our own mares. Our racing team has done really well in the last couple of years, but our best juvenile runners have all been by the Banner headed by Thrillster and Brooklyn Hustle.”

Brooklyn Hustle is of course one of Rosemont Stud’s flagship horses – running fifth in the Blue Diamond after holding favouritism for the race for an extended period during the preliminaries. She will return for the major three-year-old races in the Spring. Thrillster is the stakes winning three-year-old filly from the Team Corstens yard whose only unplaced run to date was her close up fifth in the Gr1 Thousand Guineas in the Spring. She was the winner of last year’s VOBIS Gold 2yo Sires race, which is now The Showdown, worth $1 million dollars.

In Europe, Starspangledbanner continues to throw exciting horses and just last week produced two 2-year-old fillies who won impressively, booking their spots in the prestigious Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. Chasing Dreams won on debut at the Newmarket Craven meeting by five lengths for Godolphin. She was a 750k guineas purchase at the Tatts October Yearling sale last year, the market reflecting the esteem in which Starspangledbanner is held in the Northern Hemisphere where his average sale price at the European yearling sales last year was a whopping EU 95,000 off a fee of EU 15,000 for that year.

Later in the week another Starspangledbanner filly, Lady Kermit, followed up a six-length win on debut with another victory at Newcastle and she will also go to the Group 2 Queen Mary. It is a race Starspangledbanner has already won as a sire through his daughter Anthem Alexander from his first crop. It is worth noting that his current crop of Northern Hemisphere 2yo’s hail from the first crop of any numerical substance (69 live foals) that Starspangledbanner has ever achieved in Europe, with his Northern Hemisphere books growing in number and quality every year since.

Given the turnaround in his fertility, the momentum gathering in Europe and the juvenile stars in his own racing team, Mithen is understandably excited to welcome Starspangledbanner back to Rosemont Stud.

“We think that this is a fantastic result for Victorian breeders. It is a tough game. Increasingly breeders are stuck with the bleak choice of either paying massive prices for sires with a good record or taking a massive punt on a sire whose credentials are unproven in the breeding barn and in some cases, on the race track as well. This is a stallion who won four Group 1’s on the track and has a proven record as a sire of good stakes winning horses from low numbers to date. Best of all, he has done both in Australia as well as Europe and there is no doubt that as a sire, his best is yet to come.”

He will stand at the extremely competitive fee of $22,000 including GST and his book will be limited.

In addition to this announcement, it was announced last night that former Widden stallion Shamus Award will stand at Rosemont this season. Stud principal Anthony Mithen reported that the stallion arrived at his new home over the weekend.

“He arrived on Saturday morning and looks absolutely outstanding. Widden have done a fantastic job with him – he served over 125 mares in each of his first four seasons at stud and with his oldest only three, we know that the best is still ahead and we think his move is a bonus for Victorian breeders.”

Mithen’s confidence is no doubt underpinned by his own experience with the stallion – Rosemont bred and still part-own probably the best of his stock to date in the progressive Mr Quickie, who tightened his grip on South Australia Derby favouritism with a commanding win over older horses in Saturday’s VOBIS Gold Heath at Caulfield. It was the three year old’s eighth win from only 11 starts.

“Mr Quickie is a horse who has just continued to go from strength to strength and we still don’t know where his ceiling is. We can’t wait for the Derby. We think he might be typical of Shamus Award’s stock – there is another one who ran great in the Group 3 in Adelaide who is also going to the Derby and he is really starting to look like a stallion whose progeny will thrive at the 2000m range as later three year olds and then at four and five. It’s a great profile for a lot of the broodmare population in Victoria – we will leave him at $10,000 + GST which is fantastic value for a stallion who is on the verge of making his mark and has the numbers on the ground to keep backing it up in the next 12 months.”

“His winners to runners rate is now better than Dundeel and Fiorente and he could finish this season with a handful of stakes performers and all being well Mr Quickie gets his Group One. That makes him the best value 2nd season stallion of that crop for mine.”

The other Derby horse Mithen refers to is Tony McEvoy’s Classic Weiwei, who ran 3rd in the Gr 3 Chairman’s Stakes after winning the Listed Port Adelaide Guineas at his previous start. In a good weekend for Shamus Award, his 2yo filly Ethical Solution ran fourth in the Gr 3 Breeders Stakes on debut, while yesterday at Geelong Danny O’Brien’s 3yo filly Sovereign Award won her second start by seven lengths and looks a Group horse in the making. Yearlings this selling season have sold for up to $160,000.

Widden’s Ryan McEvoy said while they were sad  to see the son of Snitzel leave, they understood the situation.

“One of Shamus’s major owners and biggest supporters Sean Buckley has the majority of his mares at his farm in Kilmore so to have the stallion closer to them was the factor. His progeny look like they are improving all the time so it’s definitely a coup for the Victorian breeding scene,” McEvoy said. “We wish them all well.”

Mithen was thrilled to be making a second stallion announcement in as many weeks as the stallion ranks at Rosemont grows to four.

“We have been very patient in our pursuit of stallions – it is a high risk game and we wanted to be pretty selective to ensure that the stallions we did bring in would suit the Victorian market and most importantly, would introduce some value for the breeders. As breeders ourselves we know that the economics at present are tough – there are a lot of high service fees and a lot of stallions with risky credentials and things can turn south pretty quickly when a decision turns out to be wrong. But we think we are presenting four stallions at affordable prices where you know what you get and they can provide a return.”

“It is a great line up and one that we hope allows us to fulfil our strategy of returning some value to the breeders. We can’t wait for the season to begin.”

Shamus Award’s service fee is set at $11,000 plus GST.

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