The stallion-maker: Rose has been Darley's goldmine

5 min read
No-one is better placed to assess the Golden Rose's status as a stallion making race than Darley, who stand five winners of the 3-year-old feature.

The Golden Rose has become one of Australia's most significant stallion-making races since it was upgraded to Group 1 status in 2009.

Seven of the nine winners of the race are currently at a stud, with last year victor, Trapeze Artist (Snitzel) likely to follow suit in the coming years.

It’s a similar record to that other major spring stallion-maker, the G1 Caulfield Guineas over that time, while six of the winners of the G1 Coolmore Stud S from 2009 are also currently at stud.

The upgrading of the race was significant in terms of timing for Darley, who the year prior significantly upped their investment in Australia with their purchase of the Woodlands Stud operation.

"It's probably the equivalent of a 2000 Guineas in England where you have to be up and going early in your 3-year-old year, " Darley's Alastair Pulford

As either Darley or Godolphin, they have won the race on four occasions since 2009, with all four of those winning colts now stallions at their operation. They also stand a fifth Golden Rose winner, Hallowed Crown.

Gallery: The five Group 1 Golden Rose winning stallions standing at Darley

"It's obviously a race we’ve had a lot of success in," Darley's Head of Sales Alastair Pulford says. "Early in the season, it’s a race where you have got to have some form of precocity."

"It's probably the equivalent of a 2000 Guineas in England where you have to be up and going early in your 3-year-old year, that generally shows you are a horse with enough precocity to make it."

The trail blazer

Denman, then racing in the Darley colours, was the first winner of the Golden Rose at Group 1 level. He currently stands for $8,800 at Kelvinside and has 10 Australian stakeswinners to his name.

"Denman really announced himself as the top 3-year-old over that trip, the seven furlongs or less," Pulford said. "He was hugely important for us."

"He had come along as a late season 2-year-old, Peter (Snowden) had given him plenty of time. He came out and dominated in that race and races up to a mile."

"He is a very consistent sire nowadays and is certainly well supported in the market place at his price."

Denman is the sire of Listed winner and Group 1 placed, Kuro. Pictured here winning the Listed Starlight Stakes at Rosehill

"All four of our winners were by our own stallions and we went and bought the Street Sense (USA) which won it (Hallowed Crown). " Alastair Pulford

That win itself was also monumental for Darley as Denman, who was a Woodlands product through and through, was the first Group 1 winner by their stallion Lonhro.

Off the back of that success, Lonhro's stud fee rocketed from $33,000 to $88,000, while his average yearling price at the 2010 sales was 50 per cent higher than it was in 2009.

Pulford said the Golden Rose had proven an important shop window for Darley's stallions

"It's been an excellent race for us in that way," he said. "All four of our winners were by our own stallions and we went and bought the Street Sense (USA) which won it (Hallowed Crown). "


Combining the old and the new

Darley's next success in the Golden Rose came in 2012 with Epaulette, who currently stands at Kelvinside for $27,500 and has made a very bright start to his stud career. His oldest progeny are 3-year-olds and he has two stakes winners in Australia as well as a Group 1 winner in South Africa.

The 2012 win was a testament of Darley being able to utilise both its global strength as well as the old Woodlands bloodlines to produce Group 1 winners and the next generation of stallions.

Epaulette is by Commands, the phenomenally successful but ultimately ill-fated Darley stallion who was bred by Arrowfield but was raced and stood by Woodlands and then Darley.

"Epaulette certainly looks like a stallion on the up," Alastair Pulford said.

He is out of an imported Darley mare, Accessories (GB), who also produced Helmet (Exceed and Excel), Bullbars (Elusive Quality {USA}) and Pearls (Exceed and Excel).

That Golden Rose win, one of two Group 1 wins of Epaulette's career, combined with that pedigree page, ensured Darley had a very valuable stallion on their hands.

"Epaulette certainly looks like a stallion on the up," Pulford said.

Watch: Epaulette winning the 2012 G1 Golden Rose

Into the blue era

In 2015, Exosphere became the first winner of the Golden Rose in the Godolphin blue, with the hulking colt franking his value with a dominant win in the race.

He now stands for $22,000 at Kelvinside with his first yearlings to hit the sales ring in early 2019.

Again, he is a great showpiece for sons of the champion Lonhro, while his dam Altitude, who was bred at Corumbene Stud, was an Easter Yearling Sales purchase by Woodlands 12 months before they sold out to Darley.

Back to back

Twelve months after Exosphere's emphatic Golden Rose success, Astern was even more impressive.

James McDonald, who rode Astern and Exosphere, rated the 2016 winner the better colt and he has stood at Darley for the past two seasons in Australia and America with his first foals hitting the ground this spring. His service fee in Australia is $33,000.

What was different about Astern's win is that he was the first of the Godolphin/Darley Golden Rose winners to be by an international stallion, in his case Medaglia D'Oro (USA).

He was the second Group 1 winner by the shuttle sire in Australia, the first to be raced by Godolphin and at 126, the highest rating son of Medaglia D'Oro.

That increased his appeal in America and was undoubtably a key in him shuttling to Kentucky earlier this year. His dam, Essaouira (Exceed and Excel), was bred by Darley.