Too pretty to sell, Hustle carries Diamond ambition

8 min read
The prettiest filly on the farm carries the hopes of Rosemont Stud in Saturday's G1 Ladbrokes Blue Diamond S. at Caulfield.

When Rosemont Stud's Anthony Mithen first laid eyes on the Starspangledbanner filly Brooklyn Hustle, he knew she'd be too pretty to sell.

The flashy chestnut with the blonde mane stood out to Mithen immediately among the foals on Rosemont's Victorian property, and in the back of his mind he thought this would be one that would end up carrying the red colours with the white gatecrasher lion in her racing days.

Brooklyn Hustle turns heads with her flashy looks

"Right from the time I saw her when she was born and I saw her at 30 days of age in the paddock, she stood out," Mithen told TDN AusNZ.

"Right from the time I saw her when she was born and I saw her at 30 days of age in the paddock, she stood out," - Anthony Mithen

"I vividly remember standing out in a paddock full of mares and foals and thinking 'That's the one!', the chestnut with the blonde mane. I wish she wasn't so pretty, because pretty horses don't sell as well in a yearling market,"

"I thought, we're going to have keep some of these Starspangledbanner fillies, she might be a good one to race. I always had in my mind that we would race her."

A year or so later, as Rosemont were putting together a likely draft for the Inglis Premier Sale, the future of that pretty filly came up for discussion again. This time it was Brooklyn Hustle herself who would effectively determine her own future.

"She did get entered for Melbourne Premier and we entered quite a few of them (Starspangledbanners), more in hope than anything else that the market might wake up and see that he was a good stallion," Mithen said.

Starspangledbanner

"She had an accident and she cut herself on the neck. It wasn't anything that is going to deter anyone from buying her but in my heart of hearts, I thought I don’t reckon the market is ready to step up and pay what I think the Starspangledbanners are worth anyway, let alone one that has a scar on the neck."

"I thought, let’s just save her the preparation and we’ll get her broken in and race her when she is all fixed up and healed."

Off to a flying start

Good looks and scars don't make a racehorse, but in the case of Brooklyn Hustle, it certainly hasn't hurt. Prepared by Jason Warren, she won on debut in spectacular fashion at Moonee Valley in December, putting herself at the top of markets for the G1 Blue Diamond S.

Her subsequent sixth in the G2 Blue Diamond Prelude may have taken some of the boom off her, but the faith of Mithen and the Rosemont crew hasn't wavered.

Brooklyn Hustle

"She's really well and this has always been our Grand Final day. While we left Caulfield two weeks ago, just a fraction deflated, I think that was competitive spirit. You want to win every time you go out," he said.

"We remain quietly optimistic but we are happy to have a bit of the pressure off and have people talking about other horses. I’d rather have everybody talking about us after the race."

A global plan pays off

Brooklyn Hustle owes her existence to the persistence Rosemont showed with her sire, who overcame much-publicised fertility issues but she is also the result of an international experiment that Mithen and Nigel Austin took eight years ago.

"We were looking to provide a bit of variety in our broodmare band. Myself and my brother-in-law discussed where, what, how and why. We'd already bought a couple of mares in America and thought we might look to European shores to look at their broodmare sales," he said.

While admitting he was primarily looking for middle distance and staying mares, one of the horses to come on his radar was a Listed winning daughter of Pivotal (GB) who was part of the 2011 Arqana December Breeding Sale at Deauville.

"When she came up as a speed mare, by Pivotal and from memory she was in foal to Fastnet Rock, and it seemed very Aussie. I couldn’t resist the temptation to put my hand up," he said.

Anthony Mithen & Nigel Austin

Joint Aspiration (GB) was an 85,000 euro purchase, one of a handful Mithen and Austin bought at the sales.

"The subsequent Fastnet Rock made Book 1 at Tatts, but we couldn’t sell it and we were going to put him in work, but unfortunately he had a bad case of spinal deformity and he had to be put down," Mithen said.

"By that stage, she was back in Australia and we thought we’d send her to our new speed stallion in Toorak Toff. She went to him a couple of times until we flipped and went to Starspangledbanner, being a speed influence as well."

She missed the first time she went to Starspangledbanner but the second time around she produced the filly that would stand out so clearly to Mithen in the paddock.

Almost a lost aspiration

But before Brooklyn Hustle could show she had the talent to match her looks, Joint Aspiration, in foal to Nostradamus, was dispatched to New Zealand to foal down and then go to Rosemont's stallion at Westbury Stud, Tarzino (NZ).

Early last year after missing to Tarzino, Mithen decided it might be time to move the mare on, listing her in the Karaka May Sale.

"I tried to sell her when she was over there rather than go through the expense of bringing her back. But when I was shopping around looking for a mare for Tarzino, I thought 'Why am I buying someone else's mare when I've got a Pivotal mare there anyway?" he said.

"I put a decent reserve in her in a tough old market thinking that was going to be tough to get. No-one knew about Brooklyn Hustle at that stage, me included. We passed her in and took her back to the farm."

Given what her filly has shown on the track since that decision, it is not likely you will see Joint Aspiration in a broodmare catalogue any time soon.

Back in Australia

In fact, she arrived back in Australia this week, in foal to Tarzino, along with the Nostradamus yearling filly she had.

"The Nostradamus filly we were thinking we’d probably race her, we might put her through a sale in New Zealand, but it would be a Book 2 or Book 3 option, and all of the sudden, she's a bit of the pride of the farm now," Mithen said.

"It will be nice to race her. She's a bright chestnut like her sister, she hasn’t got the blonde mane and we’ll give her a spin around in 12 months' time I suppose."

Brooklyn Hustle (right) pictured as a foal

International approach rolls on

That 2011 sale at Deauville proved a turning point for Rosemont's broodmare strategy.

One of the other mares they bought on that trip was Grantsville (Ger) (Trempolino {USA}, and she produced the stakes-placed Futura (Hussonet {USA}), who was then sold on to Hong Kong where he races as Mister Monte.

Another purchase was the mare Attilia (Ger) (Tiger Hill {Ire}), whose progeny's value in the Australian market jumped significantly when her close relative Almandin (Ger) (Monsun {Ire}) won the 2016 G1 Melbourne Cup.

It paved the way for repeat trips to Europe, England and Ireland for Rosemont.

"I've gone back every year and bought mares. A couple of years ago, we went mad and bought 18 mares across Ireland, France and the Newmarket sale, that was a mission to send like-for-like mares to Tarzino," Mithen said.

"They are now weanlings, rising yearlings that will go to market in 12 months' time at sales in New Zealand and Australia.

"Since I got the bug the first year. I've tried to go back every year."

Mithen said he has four or five mares in Europe to send to Starspangledbanner when he is at Coolmore.

"Given we are a shareholder in the horse and he does just as good job up there. He turns up a good horse every season and I’d be mad to think one day one might be mine," he said.

Building the brand on the racetrack

While the internationalisation of the Rosemont brand Mithen and Austin set-up continues, they know that there is nothing like winning big races to build the brand.

Saturday looms as a big day for all at Rosemont, with Brooklyn Hustle carrying the hopes of the entire operation.

Saturday looms as a big day for all at Rosemont

"It’s a nice reward for effort for everyone at the farm and solidifies our brand as a good producer of fast horses and horses that go out and perform," he said.

"It’s a nice reward for effort for everyone at the farm and solidifies our brand as a good producer of fast horses and horses that go out and perform," - Anthony Mithen

"From a commercial aspect, it’s the bright lights stuff. It's 2-year old elite racing. It’s where the commercial Richter scale lights up."

"You've got to be present there and you've got to get a bit of luck and show that's what you've got to the market place."

"It’s a day to celebrate that we are getting a few things right and hopefully we can get the 1 minute and 10 seconds of the race right and have a great old party."