Rosemont Stud has waved goodbye to its favourite son, the four-time Group 1 winner, Starspangledbanner. The brilliant son of Choisir has returned to Ireland’s famous Coolmore Stud, where he will stand the 2016 season at a fee of €15,000 ($23,000 AUD).
Anthony Mithen, Rosemont Stud Proprietor, admitted it was tough seeing Starspangledbanner leave the farm.
“It was a bit of a misty eyed moment. Everyone loved him—he was a bit of a puppy dog, he loves attention and he gets plenty of it,” he said. “He’d become part of the furniture and the star attraction at our place.
“Given his deeds with such limited numbers—to get a Group 1 winner, Group 2 winner, Group 3 winner, Listed winner, city winners…from such a such small crop, he’s clearly got the ability to put elite talent into his progeny.
“There was a bit of an aura about him, particularly this past 18 months.
“He’s such a magnificent physical specimen to look at. I’m going to miss driving past, jumping out the car, looking at him and shaking my head, saying ‘you are an impressive, strong, power-packed individual’.”
Starspangledbanner’s (ch 2006, Choisir—Gold Anthem by Made Of Gold)
Group 1 victories were in the 2009 Caulfield Guineas (1600m), and 2010 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield, and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m) at Royal Ascot and July Cup (1200m) at Newmarket.
His feats saw him crowned champion Australian sprinter in 2009-10, and Europe’s best in 2010.
Following his success in the United Kingdom, Starspangledbanner was retired to stand at Coolmore in 2011, but proved to be sub-fertile.
He returned to the track in August 2012, racing a further six times without winning.
Starspangledbanner has made an early impression as a stallion, his first European crop producing four stakes performers. Among them was the The Wow Signal (out of Muravka by High Chaparral), a nine-length winner at his first start at Ayr in May, 2014, before taking out the Group 2 Coventry Stakes (1200m) (left) and Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville (1200m) the same year.
Anthem Alexander (out of Lady Alexander, by Night Shift), another of Starspangledbanner’s progeny, also tasted success at Ascot’s Royal meeting in 2014, landing the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes (1000m).
Starspangledbanner returned to covering duties at Rosemont Stud in Australia, with a colt from She’s Alluring (by Lure) fetching $240,000 at the 2014 Gold Coast Yearling Sale, the most expensive colt from his first Australian crop. The colt, purchased by Spicer Thoroughbreds, who raced Starspangledbanner, was named Mr Individual and sent to Leon and Troy Corstens, who trained Starspangledbanner when he raced in Australia. Mr Individual has race five times for three wins, the latest at Caulfield in October.
Also in Starspangledbanner’s first Australian crop was a colt out of Rory’s Jester mare Runaway Jesse. Mornington-based trainer Mark Riley paid $170,000 at the Gold Coast Sales for the chestnut. That colt, Of The Brave, who tragically passed away in June after complications from a knee infection, showed enormous potential in three starts as a two-year-old, winning the Debutant Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield on debut in October, 2014, before scoring a narrow victory over eventual Blue Diamond winner Pride Of Dubai in the Group 3 Prelude (1100m) in February, 2015.
Mithen is hopeful confident Rosemont’s pin-up boy will return to their Gnarwarre-based farm near Geelong in the future, but says a deal with Coolmore hasn’t been done.
“Fingers crossed he’ll be back before you know it,” he added.
“There’s not been anything firm (put in place), but Coolmore have acknowledged our achievements with him so far and the job we’ve done. We’ve got a healthy relationship with them and I’m sure there’ll an amicable agreement midway through next year.”
For the time being, though, Mithen and his team will sit back and watch Starspangledbanner’s progeny try to make their mark on the track.
“It was a tragedy losing Of The Brave,” Mithen said. “The connections were convinced he was a Group 1 horse, and Widden Stud brought into him, and they rarely get it wrong. It was a great loss.
“I reckon Mr Individual can pick up where Of The Brave left off and go on with the job in the autumn. I know Team Corstens have likened him to the old man and they had plenty to do with Starspangledbanner. You’ve got to respect their opinion when they say that he’s a Group horse in the making.”
With six yearlings on offer at the upcoming Magic Millions Yearling Sale on the Gold Coast,
Starspangledbanner can further enhance his reputation as a leading sire.
“It will be nice to finally present some Starspangledbanners in Australia after the success story of Of The Brave and Mr Individual and the like,” Mithen added. “They were in his first crop and he didn’t have a second crop as he went back to the racetrack and didn’t cover any mares. That first crop was really important. Buyers were speculating on a first season stallion. Now that we know he’s a stallion of high class, albeit with only a small crop of about 22 yearlings, it’ll be very interesting to see how sought after the are. I’ve got a feeling they’ll be reasonably hot stuff.”
Rosemont Stud will offer four of the six: Lot 256 – a bay or brown colt out of Fupeg Magic (by Fusaichi Pegasus), Lot 370 – a chestnut colt out of Lady’s Light (by Toolighttoquit), Lot 412 – a bay filly out of Mannya (by Zabeel), and Lot 427 – a bay or brown colt out of Miley (by Rubiton).
Mithen insists all four of the Rosemont Stud draft are “lovely horses”, but says the Lady’s Light colt may just be the pick of a very good bunch. This is Lady’s Light’s seventh foal. The five foals to race are all winners, while the other is an unnamed colt, now in Hong Kong, by Toorak Toff. Among Lady’s Light’s five winners is Alboran Sea (by Rock Of Gibraltar), a multiple Group 1 winner, a winner at two, and South Africa’s champion three-year-old filly of 2014-15.
“Probably the one that is best on pedigree and type, without disrespecting the other three, is the Lady’s Light colt,” he said.
“We’ve had some inspections at the farm already by some very good judges and they’ve all looked around and rolled the eyes and said ‘what the hell is that horse going to make?’, given his physical stature and his pedigree page. It’s a stallion’s pedigree and he looks like a stallion.
“I’ve been calling him ‘mini me’, because he’s an absolute dead ringer for Starspangledbanner.”
Starspangledbanner is also represented by Lot 465 – a chestnut colt out of Mutate (by Octagonal), on account of Milburn Creek, and Woodside Park Stud’s Lot 575 – a chestnut colt out of the Awesome Again mare Sassy Minx, on offer at the Magic Millions Sales.