For Rosemont Stud, it has been a week to remember, when Rosemont’s bred and raced, Runaway, won the much-coveted Group 3 Geelong Cup, before another homebred, Iconoclasm raced onto the second line of betting for the Group One Kennedy Mile after capturing the lucrative VOBIS Gold Star over 1500m at Moonee Valley.
Runaway will be flying the flag of Victorian stallion Manhattan Rain who stands at Blue Gum Farm, while Iconoclasm is a son of Toorak Toff who raced to multiple Group 1 success by Rosemont and stood his first five seasons at the farm.
Having won the Listed VRC St Leger at Flemington in April and the Geelong Cup (receiving a 1.5kg penalty), the Manhattan Rain sired is now 23rd on the order of entry for the $7 million 2018 Group 1 Melbourne Cup (maximum 24 runners), with a couple still doubtful to take their place in the field.
“I was hoping that the Geelong Cup would have pushed Runaway over the line, particularly after he had won the St Leger and run third in the Group 1 South Australian Derby,” Mithen points out. “I reckon if one of the ‘internationals’ had done what he’s done we’d all be fawning over them and probably be sent out a $4 cup favourite.”
“It would be fantastic if they made some of these races exempt from ballot because we could target them with locally-bred stayers to provide an opportunity to make it into the Cup. The final pay ups have seen Runaway move into 23 on the order of entry, but the Hotham Handicap winner is automatically exempt, as will be the Victoria Derby winner, so it could be touch and go.”
Mithen, a highly respected media commentator before shifting his full-time focus to the racing and breeder caper, reckons Runaway will need to win the Melbourne Cup to “toss” the Geelong Cup victory from the prime spot on the trophy cabinet.
“I grew up in Geelong, the farms are all near Geelong, my brother-in-law, Nigel Austin (founder and principal of Cotton:On clothing) has a marquee at the Geelong Cup and Rosemont has its end of year party at the course,” Mithen reveals.
“We’ve raced Group 1 winners in our colours such as Toorak Toff, Tarzino and Volkstok‘n’Barrell, plus sold the likes of Santa Ana Lane, Hey Doc and Montoya’s Secret, but winning a Geelong Cup is the top seed for me. It means a helluva lot.”
“We’ve had some runners in the Melbourne Cup too – Winchester and Short Pause – but to have one like Runaway that you bred on farm, sold at the sales (to Gai Waterhouse for $150,000 at the 2016 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale) and kept a ‘leg’ in, well, that’s truly something special.”
The Rosemont operation now encompasses three farms – ‘breeding’ at the former Makybe property at Gnarwarre, ‘pre-training’ at Lara and ‘spelling on their original property at Ceres. They currently stand three stallions, reside around 150 mares and have around 100 part or fully owned racehorses in training.
“My father-in-law, Grant (Austin) was a wholesaler for the rag trade, but dabbled a bit in horses and I started going to the sales with him in the early 90s,” Mithen adds. “Sadly Grant passed away 15 years ago, but it was in 2012 that his son Nigel suggested we give it a real good dip, eventually expanding to the three farms. And, while we sell around 75 yearlings annually, we’ll keep a lot of our fillies because we’re aiming to eventually build up the broodmare band to around 200.”
“It’s a massive operation these days, but we all still live on the Ceres property: my mother-in-law, Nigel and his wife, my daughter Sarah and her partner … it’s quite the community!”
Aside from hopefully cheering on Runaway in the Cup, along with multiple Group placed, True Excelsior, in the Group 3 Furphy Sprint this Saturday and 2 year-old stakes-winner and multiple stakes-placed, Split Lip, in the Group 3 Hong Kong Jockey Club Plate over 1400m on Cup day, Mithen will be also keeping a particularly close eye out for Iconoclasm in the Group 1 Kennedy Mile.
Runaway is out of the 4-time winning Catrail mare, Catshaan – a half-sister to Champion Japanese Sprinter/Miler Kinshasa No Kiseki and closely related to Group One winner and sire, Groom Dancer. Since first heading to stud in 2003, Catshaan has produced six winners from seven to race including Group 1 winners Abbey Marie and Absolutely (both by Redoute’s Choice) and now Runaway.
“Catshaan has been tremendous value as we picked her up for $160,000, carrying Runaway, at the 2014 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale,” Mithen points out. “She had already produced a Group One winner in Absolutely, she was in foal to Blue Gum Farm’s Manhattan Rain – a three-quarter brother to Redoute’s Choice – and we got a free update about 12 months later when Abbey Marie won her Group One.
“I got a call from the Australian Stud Book the other day to say that the name Catshaan is now restricted internationally and can’t be used again because she’s already produced two Group 1 winners and a stakes winner. Hopefully after next week, it’s THREE Group 1 winners!”