‘Sunday’ horses just fine by Mithen

Rosemont Stud’s Anthony Mithen is quite content to breed ‘Sunday’ horses–specifically those out of his increasingly important broodmare Sunday Service. Alan Carasso talks to Mithen after Sunday Service’s son Winner’s Way, by resident sire Starcraft, won impressively on opening day at Sha Tin.

In the Thoroughbred business, owners are always looking for that ‘Saturday’ horse, the one that will treat them to a day at the races–and maybe even win a nice race–in Sydney or Melbourne or Adelaide or Brisbane. Those involved in breeding racehorses are very much of the same mindset–many would tell you that it is as exciting to breed that sort of animal as it is to race one.

But Rosemont Stud’s Anthony Mithen is quite content to breed ‘Sunday’ horses–specifically those out of his increasingly important broodmare Sunday Service (Sunday Silence {USA}). The 19-year-old mare is the dam of Winner’s Way (Starcraft {NZ}), who landed the opening-day Class 1 feature at Sha Tin Sept. 2.

Mithen, who left a career in television in 2003 to take over the reins at the Gnarwarre nursery upon the passing of his father–in-law Grant Austin, stands three stallions at Rosemont, including Winner’s Way’s successful sire Starcraft, treble Group 3 winner Nostradamus (Medaglia d’Oro {USA}) and Toorak Toff (Show A Heart).

It was with that newly acquired two-time Group 1-winning stallion in mind that Mithen went to work at the 2013 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale.

A mare for Toff

The multiple stakes-placed Sunday Service, a daughter of South African MSW & G1SP Lady’s Delight (SAf) (Local Talent {USA}), was already the dam of Crockett S. winner Kneeling (Encosta de Lago) and had most recently produced a Starcraft colt when Mithen snapped her up for $150,000 from the Kitchwin Hills consignment.

“At the time we had purchased Toorak Toff and we were pretty keen to breed top-class mares to that horse,” said Mithen. “He’s Danehill-free, so I had the pick of the crop in terms of stallions to choose from and I was really looking for mares that had already done the job and had been able to produce a nice horse in addition to being attractive and nice-priced.”

“At the time, she was in foal to Foxwedge, who was doing a pretty good job as an emerging stallion and I thought there was every chance I could get a nice mare for our new stallion. That was our mission at the time and it worked out pretty well.”

He continued, “She’s a nice mare, she’s got some good quality about her and I can see why she’s been through a sales ring a few times. She’s a lovely colour, she’s got some stretch about her and she’s obviously able to throw a nice foal.”

“She’s a nice mare, she’s got some good quality about her and I can see why she’s been through a sales ring a few times.” – Anthony Mithen

Quality producer

It didn’t bother Mithen in the slightest that Sunday Service was about to turn 14 when he signed the ticket on her.

“I am a bit of a believer in mares that have done it before and I don’t mind a mare with a bit of age,” he explained. “Going through catalogues, I’ll be quite keen to mark the mares that have got a bit of age on them, but have produced a nice horse or two already. She fit in that category.”

“I am also a believer that lightning can strike twice and so often you do get a mare that will produce not just one good horse, but several. People are sometimes looking for that bright, shiny new toy and the new fresh mare on the scene that might or might not be able to do it. She’s thrown a couple of nice horses.”

“Going through catalogues, I’ll be quite keen to mark the mares that have got a bit of age on them, but have produced a nice horse or two already.” – Anthony Mithen
Indeed, things have only gotten better for Rosemont since bringing Sunday Service into the fold. Her foal of 2009, That’s A Good Idea (Encosta de Lago), broke the Scone track record when winning the Ortensia S. (1000m) for Team Snowden in 2015.

A Winner’s Way

Not long after that, the aforementioned Starcraft gelding began to make a name for himself. Sold to Hong Kong off a BM70 win at Morphettville and renamed Winner’s Way, he rose through the handicaps in 2017 and into early 2018. He really hit his straps with a third to Beat the Clock (Hinchinbrook) in the G2 Sprint Cup two starts ahead of a maiden Group 3 score in the Sha Tin Vase H. May 27.

The value of the mare’s Written Tycoon colt, foaled Oct. 2, 2017, and Sunday Service herself–carrying a Snitzel on a November cover–had increased incrementally.

“The day Winner’s Way won his Group 3 I think we were at the sale up at the Gold Coast and watching on phones in our runway and we were giving him a nice old cheer while trying to parade one of the wares we had on sale,” Mithen recollected.

“We were quite excited that she’d thrown another [stakes winner], because we knew she was in foal to Snitzel. The Written Tycoon looks as though he’s Easter class as a yearling, so he’ll be aimed at that sale and we await anxiously for October to have a look at the Snitzel, hoping, of course, that we might get a filly, because we would keep and race her and add her to the broodmare band in time.”

It’s family business

Even as Winner’s Way will make his return to pattern level over the coming weeks and months, the pedigree is live elsewhere in the family.

The result of the first mating of Sunday Service to Toorak Toff resulted in the winning Loreto, whose late Redoute’s Choice half-sister Come Sunday is the dam of Ace High (High Chaparral {Ire}), the 2017 G1 Victoria Derby and G1 Spring Champion S. hero who is targeting the G1 Caulfield Cup and G1 Melbourne Cup. Loreto visits So You Think (NZ) this year.

The aforementioned Kneeling fetched $800,000 from Katsumi Yoshida when offered in foal to Snitzel at the Magic Millions broodmare sale in 2015 and that produce, a filly now named Power of Wexford, was purchased by Lees Racing for $450,000 at Inglis’ Easter Sale in 2017.

“We’re quite heavily exposed to the family, and happily so.” Anthony Mithen

He is also full of praise for Starcraft, who stood at Rosemont in partnership with Arrowfield from 2014 until Mithen bought the stallion outright in 2017.

A strong HK profile for Starcraft

In addition to top-class offspring at home, the stallion has done well in Hong Kong, having been responsible for the likes of the once-beaten Conte as well as Jing Jing Win, who topped the 2016 Hong Kong International Sale on a bid of HK$8.5 million (A$1.46 million) and is a three-time winner.

“They’re attractive, he throws size and bone,” Mithen said of the attractive chestnut stallion. “He’s a really big, robust horse and his foals show up that way. I think the toughness and the soundness are two key components to his success in Hong Kong.”

“I think the toughness and the soundness are two key components to his success in Hong Kong.” Anthony Mithen

“The other thing is you have to jump to the conclusion that the temperament he throws into the horses is outstanding and that gives them the opportunity to thrive and survive in what can be a challenging environment for what is a field or paddock animal. I think that those combinations really click with Starcraft.”

He added, “He’s developed a really strong niche market in Australia, for those looking to trade into Asia. It’s been a real success story for the last 18 months or two years to have him at our farm, because it gives people the opportunity to breed at a budget price and get a really big result.”

“One sold this year at the Classic sale for $340,000 and for not many yearlings sold, albeit, he averaged about $120,000 at yearling sales this year and that’s off an eight-grand service fee. He’s a real opportunity for people to breed to make money and if you want to race the horse here in Australia, he’s got an emerging record there too, with a couple of Group 1 winners and some other nice horses kicking around for him and doing the job.”

Given the success of Winner’s Way and his sire, owning an Easter-quality yearling and a mare in foal to Australia’s top stallion, you could say Mithen is getting the job done at Rosemont as well.

Copy: Alan Carasso, Thoroughbred Daily News Aus/NZ