Rosemont’s Anthony Mithen publicly attempted to persuade Coolmore to let Starspangledbanner return to Australia for stud duties later this year after a colt by the elite global stallion sold for AU$560,000 (US$378,930, AU$1.00 = US$0.6766) in Melbourne March 6.
The Hong Kong-bound Rosemont-bred son (Lot 515) of Starspangledbanner was the top-priced yearling sold on Day Two of the 2023 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, one of seven to make AU$400,000 or more during the session, after agents acting for owners from the leading Asian racing jurisdiction went toe-to-toe for the impressive colt.
Mithen was understandably elated with the price paid by a client of agent Andrew Williams and during the customary post-sale congratulatory scenes the Geelong studmaster pleaded with Coolmore, the majority shareholder in Starspangedbanner, to put him back on the plane in August.
“It was exciting to sell a horse to Andy and he mentions Hong Kong, but I think my proudest thought process right now is with Starspangedbanner. He is doing the job in Hong Kong, but he’s also doing the job all around the world,” Mithen said.
“He’s had four group 1 winners in the past six months in four different countries, so it proves that he is a true international sire superstar and I’ve just got to work on my partners to get him back to Australia this year.
“If I’ve been asked that once, I’ve been asked it one hundred times this week, ‘is he coming back, can we breed to him?’
“It’s a discussion that this horse and this result certainly puts a little extra fuel on the fire and gives us some firepower to say to the team at Coolmore, ‘he’s still got really strong relevance here in Australia and, while he’s going extremely well in Europe and he’s got a big book of mares to cover this year, I think the breeders and the commercial users will warm to him now that he’s getting that success worldwide.”
By the same sire as Asian superstar California Spangle, who downed champion Golden Sixty when claiming the Hong Kong Mile (G1) at Sha Tin in December, the AU$560,000 Starspangledbanner yearling is the second foal out of Kylix, a half sister to dual stakes winner Barbed, and a grandson of listed winner Key Bar Nights.
Given the dominance of the Tony Cruz-trained California Spangle, it was little surprise that Hong Kong-based buyers zeroed in on the colt and it was Williams and Willie Leung of Magnus Equine who squared off at the business end of bidding.
“We set our sights on him when we walked onto the complex last Wednesday and he was a horse who thankfully passed the vet,” Williams said.
“He did everything right all week and I probably pestered Mitho and the crew by looking at him every day, but the free bacon and egg sausage every morning made it worthwhile.
“He is a horse that we really liked physically and the stallion’s doing everything he possibly can in Hong Kong and, to us, that is one of the huge factors.”
The colt will be gelded as soon as next week and sent to New Zealand to grow out and be broken-in before undertaking further education in Australia on his way to Hong Kong.
“I definitely thought he was in that AU$500,000 to AU$600,000 bracket, that’s what we told the owners, so I would have been surprised if he had made less, to be honest,” Williams said.
“He (Starspangledbanner) was one of the horses that we’ve been concentrating on at the past three sales. We hadn’t found one, but we found one here.”
Since the start of the Australian racing season Aug. 1, Starspangledbanner has sired three individual group or grade 1 winners—California Spangle, Rhea Moon, and Aristia —as well as three other stakes winners, including the Clinton McDonald-trained sprinter Star Patrol.
Starspangledbanner, who covered 70 mares at Rosemont in 2021 in his last southern hemisphere season, remains at Coolmore in Ireland, where he is currently serving another big book of European mares.
Mithen paid AU$30,000 for the session-topping colt’s dam Kylix through agent Damon Gabbedy at the 2020 Magic Millions National Sale when she was in foal to Astern before sending her to Starspangledbanner in his second-last season at Rosemont.
“We got a fantastic colt that has done everything right from day dot and he’s risen in our expectations the older he’s got,” Mithen said,
“I actually didn’t think he would make quite as much as Andy did, so I am glad he valued him more than I did. I am pleased that he’s got a little headline here today.”
The three most expensive horses sold so far at the Premier Sale went through the ring Sunday, led by Noorilim Park’s AU$1.1 million I Am Invincible filly (Lot 159), but there was still a number of high-end horses sold yesterday including an AU$500,000 colt by Zoustar .
The Zoustar colt consigned as Lot 499 in the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale
The Blue Gum Farm-consigned colt (Lot 499), who is a half brother to the recently retired Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained group 3-winning and group 1-placed colt Bruckner, was purchased by Annabel Neasham.
He is the third foal out of Jestajingle, a two-time winner who is a half sister to another former Maher-trained colt now at stud in Jukebox and it was Neasham’s sales and marketing manager Alix Turpin who was on hand at Oaklands Junction to do the bidding.
“We are pretty chuffed with this one. Annabel came down to the complex on Thursday and he was just a standout, he paraded so professionally, he’s from a great farm and he’s exceptionally well bred,” Turpin said.
“We’ve got clients who want to get involved in him and we’re looking forward to getting him to Warwick Farm.”