Anthony Mithen enjoyed a successful career as a sports broadcaster with a special affinity for the thoroughbred before taking over the running of Rosemont Stud in the Geelong region of Victoria. He has since developed it into a highly-successful commercial operation.
TDN AusNZ’s Paul Vettise chatted with Anthony Mithen about the Rosemont operation.
TDN AUSNZ: Runaway is in G1 Melbourne Cup contention, have you had a runner before?
Anthony Mithen: In 2006 we partnered with OTI and had Short Pause run in the big one for us and other OTI owners. It was a huge thrill. He cornered sitting fourth and we held our breath for a second then his bubble burst. He ended up 14th I think.
Then in 2011 we imported a very well-performed horse from America called Winchester. He ran a beauty in the Mackinnon four days before, but then drew the car park, went back in a slowly run race and the rest, they say, is history. It was still an amazing day and build-up, but this would be something else to cheer on a horse we bred and still part own running in our Rosemont red colours.
TDN AusNZ: What attracted you to his dam?
AM: There was a lot to like about her. While she is no queen to look at, myself and brother-in-law Nigel Austin love older mares that have done it before. She had already thrown an ATC Oaks winner in Absolutely, was carrying a three-quarter relation which ended up being Runaway and had plenty of years left to produce us a filly or two. It wasn't long after we bought her she had Abbey Marie come out and win a Group 1 Oaks as well, this time in South Australia
TDN AusNZ: What are the breeding plans for her?
AM: God bless her, she has produced two fillies for us that we have retained. One is by Zoustar, now named Shoop and is in the 2-year-old barn at Corstens’ Flemington stables and the other is a beautiful Fastnet Rock yearling filly. I reckon Gai might be front and square to train her for us and give the mare another Classic winner
TDN AusNZ: How many in your broodmare band?
AM: We have around 150 mares around the place. The bulk at our Geelong stud, but a few in New Zealand given we are a major shareholder in Tarzino, a few in the United Kingdom and a couple in Ireland.
TDN AusNZ: Any notable new additions?
AM: We recently bought a beautiful mare in Ireland called Furnival. She is by Street Cry and is a half-sister to the dam of Kementari. We’ve just got word that she is in foal to Frankel and we will bring her Down Under.
TDN AusNZ: Toorak Toff's recently had his first stakes winner, how is the support for him?
AM: We made the very hard decision to send him down to Tassie for the 2018 season given we just couldn't drum up much local support for him. We still own him, but thought a little ‘holiday’ at Rohan Gudden's farm down there might give him a different mare pool. Iconoclasm's win in the Weekend Hussler S., hasn't done his support down there any harm at all, reports Rohan.
TDN AusNZ: Happy with the books for Nostradamus and Starcraft?
AM: Both are ticking over nicely and will cover a fair book of mares. Starcraft is going bonkers in Honkers with winners at nearly every meeting. They love him but, given they really only race colts we set up a deal where the breeder can pick what sex they would prefer their foal to be.
If they get what they want, they pay the very fair fee of $8800, but if they get the other, it's free! I don't reckon we can be fairer than that. His yearlings have sold this year up to $340,000 so there are some people making some serious cash out of Starcraft.
Nostra, being a gorgeous Medaglia D’Oro half-brother to Star Witness has been very popular in his first few seasons and we can't wait to show everyone at the yearling sales how good looking his yearlings are. Bright times ahead for that boy for sure.
TDN AusNZ: Could you tell us about you involvement with Starspangledbanner?
AM: He's a horse we bought a five per cent share in when he finished up on the track and thus set upon a journey like no other! Coolmore owned the other 95 per cent but we had a strong connection with the horse. He was bred at the farm we now own and operate from by Tony Santic, was bought by good mates Troy Corstens and Brad Spicer and was the best of his generation. What could go wrong! Lots, it turned out.
We elected with Coolmore not to insure against infertility and you guessed it, he was a stud dud. So much so, the Irish lads elected to put him back onto the track.
He still could get them in foal and while it wasn't quite at the rate a commercial farm like Coolmore would deem worth it, I always thought I could have a go at our place and muck around with him when his second race track career came to an end. And that's exactly what happened.
I got him back and resisted the urges of the self-professed experts who said they could fix him, and we just patiently learned what he liked, what made him happy and got him in a good place. Low and behold, his stats picked up and I think we got around 35 out of 50 mares in foal.
In the meantime, his and our world changed when he sired big time Royal Ascot winners with his first 2-year-old crop of just 20 odd foals. Suddenly, everyone wanted to know what had happened to the Banner and how he was going!
We worked with Coolmore and had him for another couple of seasons, but they wanted him back at their Hunter Valley base, which was fair enough. It's been great we've been able to look after each other on this one and everyone is a winner with his new-found normal fertility rate.
TDN AusNZ: How long have you been at the helm at Rosemont?
AM: I took over from my late father-in-law in 2003 after his cruel early passing. He had around 15 mares and had a boutique operation. I set about commercialising the business at that time and joined forces with his son, my brother-in-law Nigel Austin around seven years ago to try and take things to another level.
TDN AusNZ: Tell us about the properties that make up operation?
We have three farms. Our spelling farm in Ceres houses around 100-120 spellers all year round for leading stables such as Corstens, Waterhouse, Waller, Price, McDonald and Archie Alexander to name just a few. It's the original farm and is quite spectacular.
The stud and breeding operation is ten minutes away and was the old Makybe Stud. We bought it from Tony Santic around seven years ago and all credit goes to him for the set-up. It's an amazing facility with a magnificent blue stone homestead as its centrepiece.
Our pre-training facility is run by Mark and Janelle Young and has 60 boxes, a 1000 metre sand track, water walker and dry walker and plenty of day yards to keep horses happy. It's been a real key in our recent success and that of plenty of our clients.
TDN AusNZ: What about the leading graduates of the stud?
AM: Runaway goes to the top of the pops this week, but we have had a stellar 18 months or so with horses like Santa Ana Lane, Hey Doc, Montoya's Secret, Ruthven, Iconoclasm, Thrillster and Krone coming off the farm or out of our drafts.
TDN AusNZ: How many in the racing team?
AM: There's a big bunch of 2-year-olds which swell the numbers, but we would have shares in around 100 at racing age, including the 2-year-olds.
TDN AusNZ: You also have a few in New Zealand and Singapore?
AM: We have raced successfully in NZ with Volkstok'n'barrell winning Group 1s for us and Sardaaj was narrowly defeated in the G1 Levin Classic. Volk has now gone to Singapore, but seems to have left his form in NZ! He might be pining for Australasia!
TDN AusNZ: Are you from a racing background?
AM: My father, who died when I was only 12, loved a bet and had mates with shares in horses and instilled in me a romantic notion that racing was a form of sporting poetry, that when you got it right, the prose turned into cash!!
I've never been a very good punter, but then again, I don't think he was either. I was the kid at school that snuck out at lunchtime to have a quaddie and the dear old lady at the local TAB let me on even when I was in school uniform. Actually I was suspended from school in year 12 for wagging to go to the Geelong Cup. How ironic hey!